Money, Leisure, Death


Three subjects that are fundamental to leading an examined life go unaddressed in the college curriculum: money, leisure, and death. All students should be required to take a single course that considers these subjects together. Money, you will say, is already taught in college. More students than ever enroll in business programs, and economics is among the most popular academic majors. But I am speaking about money in personal and philosophical ways that these academic subjects don’t take up. This means thinking about money in a larger context: How important is it to you, and how much of it do you need to lead the life you want? Tolstoy addresses these questions cogently in his short story “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” In it, a peasant farmer is told that he can own as much land as he can encircle in a day. The man sets his sights high, pushing himself to run around a very large space, and when he finishes, drops dead.

more from Paula Marantz Cohen at The American Scholar here.