AU Press Releases

AU professor to present Bergren Forum on simplicity

Emrys Westacott, professor of philosophy at Alfred University, will present “The Philosophy of  Frugality” as the final presentation in the Fall 2012 Bergren Forum Series, Thursday, Dec. 6 at 12:10 p.m. in Nevins Theater, Powell Campus Center. The event is free of charge and open to the public.

Westacott will discuss why most philosophers think the good life is the simple life, and why most people think they’re wrong. The lecture will be based on philosophies detailed in Westacott’s recent book (“The Virtues of Our Vices”), for which he was supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities stipend.

Philosophers throughout the course of history, including Plato, the Buddha, Augustine, and Thoreau have argued simple living as the key to happiness. Westacott states that the important question is “whether it is still wise to be frugal and live simply even if one does not need to.” In a time of great economic recession, some argue that cutting out extravagances, which has become more commonplace, is stalling the recovery of the economy; others believe that doing so is ethical and will lead to a happier, more fulfilling life. Thus, there are political, economic, and ethical ramifications to the lifestyle that each of us pursues.

Westacott, who has taught at Alfred University since 1996, received degrees in philosophy from the University of Sheffield, U.K., McGill University in Quebec, and the University of Texas at Austin. His first book, “Thinking Through Philosophy,” was co-authored with Chris Horner and published by Cambridge University Press in 2000.

The Bergren Forum, sponsored by the Alfred University Division of Human Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, meets Thursdays during each academic semester at the University. Participants are encouraged to bring a lunch; coffee and tea will be available.