A truly materialistic culture


“Our radically misnamed ‘materialistic’ civilization must above all cultivate the love of material, of earth, air, and water, of mountains and forests, of excellent food and imaginative housing and clothing.”

— Alan Watts (Does It Matter?: Essays on Man’s Relation to Materiality)

It’s often said that our culture is “materialistic”, but this is perhaps only true in a very shallow sense. A culture that glorifies the hyper-consumption of an endless array of junk that’s cheaply made, environmentally destructive, and intended to provide enjoyment for only a fleeting moment before being tossed into the landfill really has no respect for material, and therefore not worthy of being called materialistic.

A truly materialistic culture, however, is one in which people cultivate a more contemplative and appreciative attitude toward good design, valuing the virtues of quality, economy, simplicity, and sustainability. It would appear in everything from furniture to food. Only then would a culture be worthy of being called “materialistic”.


Photo credit: R. Thompson