Pay What Things Are Worth

You can buy a Plume Blanche diamond-encrusted sofa for close to two hundred thousand dollars. It’s also possible to hire one person to kill another person for five hundred dollars. Remember that next time you hear someone ramble on about how the market decides what things are worth. The market might be rational, but the people who comprise it are not. Diogenes, who founded the Cynic school, emphasized the true worth (axia) of things, a theme that persisted in Stoicism and was strongly reflected in both Epictetus and Marcus. It’s easy to lose track. When the people around you dump a fortune into trinkets they can’t take with them when they die, it might seem like a good investment for you to make too.

But of course it isn’t. The good things in life cost what they cost. The unnecessary things are not worth it at any price. The key is being aware of the difference.


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