William James: Grown Afraid to be Poor

Posted by admin on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

William James Money Quote saying we have made poverty a thing to fear, rather than appreciating and valuing the inner life, while scrambling for wealth is revered. William James said:
 
We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition Quote
 

“We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition” — William James

 

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In this quote, William James is criticizing the mentality that had developed in society by his time of viewing poverty as something to be greatly feared and avoided at all costs.

James notes that people had “grown literally afraid to be poor”, seeing it as a terrible state to be in. He also calls out the tendency to “despise” those who consciously choose a simpler, less materialistic lifestyle with lower costs in order to prioritize “inner life” and spiritual/intellectual pursuits over wealth accumulation.

James suggests there is a prevailing attitude that if someone does not relentlessly “pant” after money and status like others engaged in the “general scramble”, they are deemed as “spiritless” and “lacking in ambition”.

The overall interpretation is that James is challenging the stigma surrounding poverty and material modesty during his era, arguing people should not be defined or judged solely by their income or net worth. He appears to be advocating for allowing individuals the freedom to define success on their own terms according to this quote.

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