Samuel Johnson: Want of Superfluities

Posted by admin on Thursday, June 9, 2016

Samuel Johnson Money Quote saying in nature, only lack of necessities make us poor, but society names lack of the superfluous as poverty. Samuel Johnson said:
 
Nature makes us poor only when we want necessaries, but custom gives the name of poverty to the want of superfluities Quote
 

“Nature makes us poor only when we want necessaries, but custom gives the name of poverty to the want of superfluities” — Samuel Johnson

 

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In this quote, Samuel Johnson is making a distinction between true poverty and relative poverty. He argues that “nature” only makes one poor when they lack “necessaries” like basic needs for survival such as food, water and shelter.

However, Johnson states that society or “custom” labels people as poor even when they only lack “superfluities” – things that are not essential but seen as desirable luxuries. The quote suggests Johnson believes true poverty involves deprivation of basic necessities due to forces outside one’s control, whereas lacking additional non-essential goods is a subjective concept defined more by changing social norms than objective need.

He appears to be advocating for recognizing the difference between absolute and relative forms of poverty.

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