Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Wealth unused might as well not exist.

- Aesop

Wealth is: Whatever money can buy.

- Aristotle

A man who has a million dollars untouched in a bank, and lives in a miserly hovel on bread and beans for fear of reducing his hoard, is the poorest wretch alive.

- A.C. Grayling

Wealth is defined in terms of money itself rather than what it can be exchanged for. It is expressed as how much a person is worth.

There are many kinds of wealth money cannot buy. You can buy education, but you cannot buy intelligence; you can buy designer clothes, but not style; cosmetics, but not beauty; sex, but not love. But, doubtlessly, money can buy help towards style, beauty and love.

There is a time when a man distinguishes the idea of felicity from the idea of wealth. Health is considered the true wealth, and that riches do not satisfy but increases our appetites.

However, according to the wisdom of Sa'di, "riches are intended for the comfort of life, not life for the hoarding of riches." To spent is to gain; but of course, only if what was bought is not the equipment or occasion for empty ostentation.

Wealth is not the large bank balance; for what is counted is not the figures on a bank statement but things learned, done, seen and enjoyed in the course of life. If we count what was spent, not what remains, we would have a truer evaluation of our wealth in our possession.

Given that each of us have one life only, and that lives last on average less than a thousand months, it therefore matters to know how to live richly, which in turn means knowing what true wealth is.

Having money is good but what we can do and be as a result of having money is good? When surpluses eventuates, the only things its possessors can think to spend it on are usually banal gestures, sequins and gilt, inebriation and parade.

Almost nothing is as revealing as what, in the absence of the means, a person chooses as ends.

Though I talk with the tongues of men and of angels,
And have not money,
I am as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy,
And understand all mysteries,
And all knowledge,
And though I have all faith,
So that I could remove mountains,
And have not money,
I am nothing…

And now abideth faith, hope and money,
These three, but the greatest of these is Money.

- George Orwell; Keep the Aspidistra flying; 1936


A.C. Grayling's The Heart of Things: Applying Philosophy to the 21st Century


KIMHO8 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Avatar said...

Dear Maverick,

A beautiful poem and great insight into the nature of Wealth. Thanks for sharing :)


RaZ said...

wealth - an abundance or profusion of anything; plentiful amount: a wealth of imagery.

That is the second definition found on dictionary.com. And that is the problem.

People often interpret wealth from a financial perspective. The origin of the word is from the Middle English term 'welth' meaning well. And well has two meaning; as in good or a reservoir.

Ok, so you talking specifically about wealth in monetary terms. A person who has wealth or wealthy is a a person who has an abundance of money or property (land or otherwise.)

It is natural for humans to dream, talk, fantasize and philosophize about things we do not have, be it wealth (money), power, health, beauty, love or sex.

But if you look at it simplistically, it boils down to those who have and those who have not. Dun matter what you have. And people being people tend to be envious and jealous of others who have more. But historically, human social order is always about the conflict between the haves and the have not.

Everyone cannot be rich or wealthy as in everyone cannot be healthy, beautiful or have a 10in dick. For those who believe, God made men big and small, black and white, good and bad. For those who are more practical, its just about statistics. And statistically usually less than 0.3% of the population will be above 3 standard deviation from the norm.

So where does this leave the rest of us? As usual, bitch lor.

It is odd that people who do not have frequently advise those who have on what to do with what they have.

agnos said...

hi mav - i agree and disagree with some of the things u wrote.

you say many kind of wealth money cannot buy eg intelligence, love..etc. but for people with money they will retort by saying if i can buy it why do i need it myself?

i know of bosses who hire someone for his single set of skills - so that he can get what he wanted and not becos that particular skills set will play a pivotal role in the overall company strategy.

People with money always say - so what - I have the money and I indulge in what i chose. Is that wealth than when they can leverage on money to satisfy their innate needs?

you say wealth is not the large bank balance - i would say it depends on circumstances. For a family of 3 who after paying off all the basic necessity and is left with little by the end of the month - a large bank balance would surely help esp if there is an emergency like the car broke and have to be repair to the tune of RM1000 or so.

But i would agree wealth is not a big house or a nice car if one is not happy and is constantly facing family problem or living in angst and with ennui forever hanging over the head.

possibly wealth is a mindset. and it can only be define on an individual basis.

for the rich - their definition maybe to get more money and to live longer.

for the poor - the definition maybe "if" only I have this extra RM200 by the end of the month.

hasilox said...

Wealth without integrity, what can be worse? Unfortunately, people realize that only on their way out.

Jefus said...

Many of the super rich, achieve another level in deploying their
wealth in aid to humanity. I would like to hope human kind have reached a higher level of benevolence. The wealth that
they have amassed can make significant changes in desperate
lives around the globe if used wisely.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Soros all have organisations or
are related to some that aid humanity in some way.Some may
argue that Bill did it to soften the monster image that MS have
generated while growing into a corporate giant or Warren does have this disdain on the lucky sperm., and Soros to soften his image as a hedge fund man.

With the recent massive wealth destruction at hand and ongoing, a new breed will emerge from the ashes. There will be many financial institutions gone but there will also be many new faces/players showing up. And the race to become the richest man resumes.

Wealth relates to the human pyche, the wellnes of the human mind. But greed is primordial. Ultimately greed triumphs over, always.

KIMHO8 said...

Financial wealth should not be the purpose of life, it is just a tool for life.

toolan said...

Financial freedom could also be a perception or interpretation. To people who do not really know me will think I am damn bloody loaded, maybe it's the way I bring myself or could be because I am stocky with a cheerful character. But to people who knows me, I am not rich nor enjoy any financial freedom at all. But I am known to be rich with other "wealth" like family and friends, come to think of it, amongst my buddies(goes all the way back to secondary school), I am the "kiam hoo"(salted fish), most worse off financially but my friends feel otherwise is I have my other "wealth" compare to their physical actual wealth.
Funny isn't it? I guess you can't have the best of both worlds. So, what I am trying to say is, wealth could come in many other forms and not just what is in your bank account(like the poem said). But a healthy bank account would definitely help, don't you think so Mav?

Anonymous said...

financial freedom for everyone is an ideal dream, and a nightmare for a country, cos the country will be all billionaire, like some african countries or indonesia, multi-millionaires.

a country depended on people to work, and even if they don't want to. who like to work, and do labor work if they have a choice, but somebody got to do it.

financial freedom is only for those lucky few, either they are smart to plan early in life, or they are plain lucky to have some inheritance or etc.

for the rest of us, we got to work to keep the economy moving and to sustain the entire population. And the country depended on people like us, not those who are too rich to do any productive work.


KIMHO8 said...

Health, financial freedom and time freedom is an important asset; but few people can be very lucky to have them at the same time.

With the wealth of financial freedom, we can have free time to do what we want to do, to go where we want to go, after all, life is more than just to survive.

My husband still fighting against a rare disease as positive as possible, different people have different experiences and insights, everyone experiences some form of setback.

Courage is the wealth for us to become stronger and stonger in facing any challenges and failures without fear because life needs to go on.

moo_t said...

The issue of wealth are well discussed in EU, US than other 3rd world country.

To a society, a wealthy person are not the one with abundance cash, but one that create jobs, help pushing the economy, etc.

It is no surprise that effective 1st world government against the idea of "bring money to the coffin" or "pass the wealth to next generation". Hence, we see inheritance /real estate tax(AKA death tax) is "unbelievable".

However, it is common sense for 1st world government : excessive cash in a bucket are time bomb to the society, it also curb growth on everything. The best example is none other than those tycoon business in Indonesia, Philipines, China,etc.

Those Asian tycoon are rich, however, they do too little for society advancement. Invention, technology advancement are still pilot by 1st world country company and government.

In addition, "black market money" are also give similar problem. The subprime bubble bursting actually are work from many "collective wealth agency" : Wall street, Collective government such as China, black market money,etc.

Maverick SM said...

Dear Commenters,

Before I address each comment I want to thank all of you here for giving this article the best of your knowledge and so much positive thoughts and individual understanding of the subject matter. Thank you very much.


I also hope you can share your thoughts on this subject.


Let me be honest to you: I truly appreciate your opinion here and you points raised. It erudite and give us a larger contextual appreciation of the subject matter. I am extremely delighted to learn from you.


I must say to you that the thesis are general opinions shared by many philosophers and I culled it to express the various views. However, I must say that I personally agree with the context.

I am please to say that your sharing of the thoughts and opinions are fantastic. Thank you Agnos.


I may agree; however, integrity is not wealth driven; it is behavioral and an inner morality of an individual driven by their attributes and attitudes.


Yes, I have read about the super rich and their charitable acts. But I think it is much easier to act that way if we are super rich. That said, there are some Chinese who are super rich but gives little to charity while passing their whole fortune to their children.


I do agree but what can a purpose of life be if we had to live in extreme poverty?

KIMHO8, I do hope that your husband will be cured wholly soon. I am delighted to know that you have the strength and courage to go through the passage of life with the rest of your family members. I am proud to have a friend like you.


You have a good discussion here on the subject topic on a world view perspective and I do agree with your points.

I would love to learn from your personal and individual perspective and experiences on the subject matter.


I am delighted to learn from your experience and your attributes are surely delightful.


You have a philosophical idealism and what you said is rightly a socio-political philosophy of a nation and its people.

I would be glad to learn from your individual experiences on the subject matter which is particular is much individualistic type of experience.