Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Honeyed Cakes

Diogenes Laertius 6.44 (on Diogenes of Sinope, tr. R.D. Hicks):
He would often insist loudly that the gods had given to men the means of living easily, but this had been put out of sight, because we require honeyed cakes, unguents and the like.

ἐβόα πολλάκις λέγων τὸν τῶν ἀνθρώπων βίον ῥᾴδιον ὑπὸ τῶν θεῶν δεδόσθαι, ἀποκεκρύφθαι δ' αὐτὸν ζητούντων μελίπηκτα καὶ μύρα καὶ τὰ παραπλήσια.
Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics (New York: Aldine, 1972), chapter 1 (The Original Affluent Society), pp. 1-2:
For there are two possible courses to affluence. Wants may be "easily satisfied" either by producing much or desiring little.
Id. p. 14:
We are inclined to think of hunters and gatherers as poor because they don't have anything; perhaps better to think of them for that reason as free. "Their extremely limited material possessions relieve them of all cares with regard to daily necessities and permit them to enjoy life" (Gusinde, 1961, p. 1).
Id. p. 14:
A good case can be made that hunters and gatherers work less than we do; and, rather than a continuous travail, the food quest is intermittent, leisure abundant, and there is a greater amount of sleep in the daytime per capita per year than in any other condition of society.
Id. pp. 34-35:
Reports on hunters and gatherers of the ethnological present—specifically on those in marginal environments—suggest a mean of three to five hours per adult worker per day in food production. Hunters keep banker's hours, notably less than modern industrial workers (unionized), who would surely settle for a 21-35 hour week.
Id. p. 36:
Above all, what about the world today? One-third to one-half of humanity are said to go to bed hungry every night. In the Old Stone Age the fraction must have been much smaller. This is the era of hunger unprecedented. Now, in the time of the greatest technical power, is starvation an institution. Reverse another venerable formula: the amount of hunger increases relatively and absolutely with the evolution of culture.
Id. p. 39:
[T]he "economic problem" is easily solvable by paleolithic techniques. But then, it was not until culture neared the height of its material achievements that it erected a shrine to the Unattainable: Infinite Needs.

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