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How far mankind has come from its previous, simpler way of living


citingKylah 1 / -  
Oct 4, 2011   #1
This is my assignment in my English Composition 101 Course:

In the essay "Economy", by Henry David Thoreau, he laments how far mankind has come from its previous, simpler way of living, with only the bare necessities to get us by and keep us happy. His essay was written in the mid-1800s, but much of what he discusses could be discussed today, as well. However, whether or not is a discussion we should be having is another point entirely.

Do you believe that Thoreau's lamentations are justified, and his ideal life of austerity should be practiced more in modern society?
Write an essay of 500+ words that argues whether or not "simple living" would be beneficial--or, even, possible--in modern society.

My Ideas ....

Would it make sense to explain how the argument Thoreau makes about desperation [a] , does not apply in modern society.
That way I could make my claim of how society doesn't want to live an austere life, they value more and that austerity is found in different aspects of our culture as a whole anyway.

Examples: (Native Americans to an extent) (3rd World Countries) (Hippies/Gypsies/Bohemians).

I was going to warrant this by pointing out how desperation would be found in some part of peoples' lives in pursuit of happiness and also, that it is needed to motivate one to achieve that.

Lastly I would point back to how people value more than just a plain life because it is boring.
People have drive and ambition to do more with themselves.

-Random thought also- would it be possible for me to make the argument that going back to an austere life leads to people wanting to become more complex and differentiated. [I had a sociology source for this argument. Herbert Spencer]

I just want to make sure that I'm staying on topic with these points and if they make sense.

[a] quote : The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
Rajiv 55 / 400  
Oct 10, 2011   #2
However, whether or not is a discussion we should be having is another point entirely.

This is not very clear as it contradicts the previous sentence.

they value more and that austerity is found in different aspects of our culture as a whole anyway.
Examples: (Native Americans to an extent) (3rd World Countries) (Hippies/Gypsies/Bohemians).

..they value more[,] ..

I would not argue if you included native americans in the scope of .. our culture as a whole .., maybe even gypsies and bohemieins, who are after all found almost everywhere, but I really wonder what you have in mind when you include 3rd world countries in .. our culture as a whole .. . Its a noble idea though, but I don't think people generally see it as this. It is culture which differentiates the different worlds.

going back to an austere life leads to people wanting to become more complex and differentiated. [I had a sociology source for this argument.

why do you ask - "would it be possible for me to make the argument ..." ? Thoreau was tackling one of the deepest issues that mankind faces and it is timeless. Complex and differentiated apply to hippies and bohemians since they chose this way of life. Gypies, generally, and people in 3rd world countries live austerely, but have different reasons for doing so. Only those who would rather have more are open to label desperate.

The others though live the principle of austerity, or are trying to, and this is what Thoreau himself was talking about.

I think people in countries that are not 3rd world would have difficulty understanding this.


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