"No Wealth but Life" When Does Mercantile Wealth Create Ruskinian Wealth?

Swann P.
European Research Studies Journal, Volume IV, Issue 3-4, 5-18, 2001
DOI: 10.35808/ersj/62


Ruskin's famous dictum, "There is no Wealth but Life", offers a radically different view of the purposes of economic growth. This paper explores the relationship between mercantile wealth (as Ruskin called it), and his higher concept of wealth as life. After a brief review of Ruskin's writings about wealth and political economy, the paper develops a model of this relationship. We find an inverse u-shaped relationship between mercantile wealth and Ruskinian wealth, suggesting an optimum level of technological advance. Beyond that, while striving to increase the contribution of material wealth to overall wealth, we may actually reduce Ruskinian wealth.

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