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Podcast #303: The Philosophy of Frugality | The Art of Manliness

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When most people think of frugality, they think of it primarily a way to reduce spending so they can do things like pay off debt or save for a goal like retirement or a downpayment on a home. It’s seen as a personal finance tactic with purely utilitarian ends. But for philosophers and theologians going back all the way to Ancient Greece, frugality was seen as an essential virtue in order to develop wisdom and true happiness.

Today on the show, I talk to Emrys Westacott, philosophy professor and author of The Wisdom of Frugality, about the philosophical history of penny pinching. We begin our conversation discussing what philosophers mean by frugality and the various philosophical schools that gave frugality primacy. We then go on to summarize the arguments as to why frugality makes people wiser and happier, the counter-arguments to frugality as a virtue, why the ideal of frugality changes based on circumstances, and why living frugally is harder to do today than in times past.

This show provides a nuanced look at a much-praised virtue and will leave you mulling over how, why, and to what extent to strive for it in your own life.

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