Finding the Proper Measure: The Value of Money Versus Higher Values
In our consumerist world, our values center around the possession of money and the possibility of buying things we have never imagined we need. Shopping has become our lifestyle to the extent that our sense of freedom seems to be reduced to a choice between brands. I examine this state of affairs from three perspectives: apologetic, critical, and one attempting to balance our obsession with money and shopping with a proper understanding of higher values. Following Nicolai Hartmann, I develop the last of these standpoints. We should not be too concerned about our love for shopping, nor is there anything wrong with convincing people to buy things they had never imagined they needed. But it is problematic when we spend more time shopping than with our children and reorganize our schools as if they are corporations created to make profit. The problem of our age is that we place money, shopping, and economic values in a position that is inappropriately high: we see the highlights of our lives in shopping and the acquisition of new things, while their values are far lower. The central task of our age is to find the right balance between low and strong material values and high and weak personal values.