Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

The McKelvy House Scholars hosted a dinner discussion Wednesday evening on “Materialism, Satisfaction, and Poverty.”

The discussion was led by McKelvy Scholar Hart Feuer ’05 (Portland, Ore.), a double major in economics & business and German.

While most seem to agree that wealth can buy happiness, says Feuer, not all cultures hold to this view. Some people believe that money can bring happiness only to a certain point, he adds, while others maintain that money results in unhappiness after a while.

Feuer’s own view has been shaped by his experience this summer in Cambodia, where he spent three months conducting research in Siem Reap-Angkor as one of five students in the nation chosen as a Center for Khmer Studies Junior Fellow.

He raised the following questions to consider in preparation for the discussion:

  • What habits, values, and joys do these different groups have that may influence their perception of happiness: citizens of developing countries, citizens of developed countries, family farmers, urban dwellers?
  • What would you consider to be “basic needs”? Should basic needs include un-buyable things like freedoms and institutions?
  • What is the role of “aspiration” in this picture? If low aspirations are fulfilled, is this truly happiness? If artificially high aspirations are only partially fulfilled, is this unhappiness?
  • For poor peoples, what other sources of happiness exist outside of material increases?
  • For poor peoples who have known nothing of “modern commodities,” is it fair to show them what they don’t have and have never had?

Since 1962, the McKelvy House Scholars program has brought together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. Weekly dinner discussions that engage the students in debate and exchange of ideas are the hallmark of the program. Most members also contribute to the annual McKelvy Papers, written on a topic of each person’s choice. McKelvy Scholars participate in activities together such as field trips to plays, concerts, and exhibits, and sponsor events for the campus as well.

Last Sunday’s discussion:
Sept. 5 — Obesity in America
April 25 — Anti-foundationalist critique of philosophy
April 18 – Dark humor
April 11 — Cults
April 4 — Link between ethical behavior and intelligence

March 28 — Five Images of Man

March 7 — Idealized body forms

Feb. 22 — Countercultures

Feb. 15 — Eternity

Feb. 8 — Bisexuality

Dec. 7 — Anger toward computers and technology

Nov. 9 — “Unnecessary” crimes

Nov. 2 — Genetic alteration

Oct. 26 — Social construction of gender

Oct. 19 — Greed as an economic force
Sept. 28 — Value

Categorized in: Academic News