Currently Browsing: Consumer Culture
Oct 6, 2011
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve drafted a new paper on voluntary simplicity. It’s a bit more philosophical than my recent writing (and it’s rather long) but I hope that the title might tempt some of you to take a look. In a sentence, the argument I make is that living simply in a consumer society is an intensely creative challenge, one that is similar to the creative challenge of...
Aug 17, 2011
Economic growth is the secular religion of advancing industrial nations. – Daniel Bell
In December 2009 I addressed the Parliament of the World’s Religions on the subject of the spiritual significance of voluntary simplicity. I would never hold myself out as an authority on this matter, I hasten to add – it seems to me a rather too personal subject for there to be ‘experts,’...
Aug 9, 2011
I’ve recently started teaching a Masters of Environment course called, “Consumerism and Sustainability,” through the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne. Last night I was privileged enough to deliver a lecture on Thoreau, and I have attached an audio file of part of that lecture if anyone would like to have a listen. I have also attached an e-book called ‘Just...
Jul 19, 2011
Continuing the July series of publications, this post consists of an essay called “The Voluntary Simplicity Movement: Reimagining the Good Life beyond Consumer Culture,’ which is soon to be published in the peer-reviewed, International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability. This essay, which is based on a collection of earlier posts on this website, is...
Jul 10, 2011
The inner crisis of our civilization must be resolved if the outer crisis is to be effectively met. – Lewis Mumford
Building upon the arguments presented in the previous post, this post consists of another working paper for a journal, this time focusing on the relationship between voluntary simplicity and degrowth. The paper is entitled ‘Voluntary Simplicity and the Social Reconstruction of...
May 8, 2011
Let me define a machine very broadly as something incapable of thought that reacts predictably to a given stimulus. Take a vending machine, for example. Someone puts money in, pushes certain buttons, and without thinking about it, the machine distributes the goods selected.
Now imagine another type of machine – a robot. Suppose every time this robot has an opportunity to acquire money it does so and then...
May 4, 2011
For some time I have been interested in the notion of peak oil, but recently I have had the opportunity to research quite extensively on the subject. I am currently working on an essay about peak oil and its implications for high consumption lifestyles, but presently I would just like to share some of the best online resources (articles, videos, and websites) that I have discovered in my research. Before...
Mar 21, 2011
If you’d excuse the rather confronting title, I’d like to invite you to undertake what I call the ‘Deathbed Experiment.’ It’s simple and goes like this:
Imagine you are on your deathbed and someone asks you: “What attitudes defined your life?” What would you want to be able to say?
This thought experiment never fails to move me in some way, and I always feel that it moves me in the right...
Mar 2, 2011
Hedonism can be defined as a way of life which treats pleasure as the ultimate good. It can be distinguished from utilitarianism, which treats happiness as the ultimate good. Hedonists are not so much concerned with happiness, in the sense of overall wellbeing. They are more interested in the carnal, sensual, and immediate pleasures of food, intoxication, sex, leisure, nature, art, and the like. By...
Feb 5, 2011
Have you ever purchased or been given something, something you really wanted, only to find that this new acquisition made the rest of your stuff seem a bit old and dated? Rather than discarding the new acquisition or accepting some disunity in the style of your possessions, have you then been tempted to upgrade your old and dated stuff?
In the 18th century, the French philosopher Denis Diderot wrote an...