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The American Dream

The American Dream is often associated with living the good life and prosperity. In contemporary society, the good life and prosperity are often associated with material wealth and acquisition. In todayÆs culture, we are much more likely to be judged by what we own than by what we do or who we are. Jerome M. Segal (1999, p. 8) maintains that despite the current preoccupation with wealth and material acquisition, in America ôThere is an anticonsumptionist core in much American thinking on the subject.ö The general outlook and form of life in the U.S. has become economic activities in a way that serves to ôdistort human natureö and ôthwartsàthe possibility of human fulfillmentö (Segal, 1999, p. 5).

Aristotle maintained that the attainment of the ôsimple lifeö was the primary goal of acquiring income, income that was only necessary as a means of enabling ôone to turn away from money-getting and undertake the real activities of lifeö (Segal, 1999, p. 4). The real activities of life included something higher in purpose and meaning than the acquisition of money and material goods. They included philosophy, the pursuit of knowledge, the arts, or interacting with other citizens. When the pursuit of economics becomes a purpose in its own right, it increases the burden on human beings in terms of extra labor and a lack of time to pursue higher pursuits that give deeper meaning to live. As Aristotle implied, when economics and pursuit of material goods becomds the goal of lhfe they take on a life of their own that requires maintenance at the expense of individual fulfillment, ôit reproduces unchecked without regard to the larger life of the organism, and ultimately undermines that lifeö (Segal, 1999, p. 4).

I agree wholeheartedly with Aristotle and believe that contemporary society, with its focus on wealth and acquisition, continues to undermine quality of life for individuals. Aristotle is not the only


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The American Dream. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:45, May 28, 2020, from