The other day in Philosophy we had a class debate. The class was divided in half. One half had to defend why the continual attainment of more and more wealth was the best thing someone could do with their life. The other half had to defend why the pursuit of wisdom and virtue was the best thing someone could do with their life. Obviously here when we look at the span of someone’s life we automatically think “Well you need some money to make wisdom and virtue easier to seek.” Okay Let’s disabuse this notion. The wealth we are talking about is above and beyond what people could ever hope to possibly use for themselves. We see this with old money. The Vanderbuilts, Kennedys and so forth.
Let’s set the stage for the characters for this debate. My college is a private one. Annual tuition runs around 28 thousand per student. The majority of my classmates come from affluent families. I’m not one of those. My military service has earned me my place. The majority of the student body are liberal free thinkers trying to make something good with their lives and give back to those around them. So with this in mind we set off on our debate.
The wealth debate: “Monetary wealth is quintessential for the betterment of the person as a whole and a good life. Wealth buys a better education, a better home, better medicine, etc. With this wealth I’m able to pursue philanthropy and assist those less fortunate. I’ve got the ability to take trips across the world and enrich my mind. I don’t have the normal stress of bill collectors knocking at my door. My children will not have to deal with needless hardships. They can be raised with a piece of mind to pursue what their hearts desire. My wealth invested drives capitalism. It gives everyone a chance to earn their own and become as successful as I am. Yes monetary wealth is the key to life.”
The wisdom and virtue debate: “Virtue and wisdom are the essences of a good life. Living your life with virtue, as in honoring your family and taking care of the less fortunate, will fill you with happiness. The little things in life is what makes it worth while. Money is a distraction. It cannot buy walking the beach with my child’s hand in mine at sunset looking for seashells. Wisdom can enlighten me on the best ways to hunt and forage for food if I’m not living within the city realm of concrete jungles. Wisdom let sme know what plants can help sooth a toothache and I don’t have to pay scraps of useless papers to some doctor. Wasting my time waiting for medication I could be making while telling a story to my children. With regards to virtue, if I’m warm during the winter and come across someone struggling with the cold, why not give them my extra pair of gloves when I have pockets? Should he or she suffer because they weren’t as prosperous as I was. Why not help those around me? Does that not help us in the long run? Yes virtue makes good people and wisdom enriches their lives. That is the only way.”
My questions to my readers is this, what path do you walk and why?