Today’s been a reading day for me. I am preparing to begin summer classes; I am teaching a course on The Seven Deadly Sins. I happened upon a paper by George Schrader, a philosopher whose work I always find admirable, called “Monetary Value and Personal Value”. It ends thus:
The problem for contemporary man is, I believe, to free himself sufficiently from the tyrannical dominance of monetary value to be able to judge in his own terms what things are worth to him as an individual with his own needs and purposes. To do this, he must programatically turn aside from the prima facia monetary value of his own needs, his labor, and the goods he confronts and look toward that dimension of himself and his world which stands in contrast to the entire domain of monetary value. He must ask such simple questions as: Do I really care that my clothes should be so white? Do I really wish to look so pretty? What do I really care about, and what will in fact and not simply in representation answer to that concern? Only by insisting on asking such questions can he avoid having all of his values decided for him. And only thus can he have his own world.
Of course the texture of the prose here is not Thoreauvian (except, perhaps, for the questions)–but the thought, well, it sure sounds like the “Economy” chapter of Walden.