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After the End of History

The Curious Fate of American Materialism

Robert E. Lane

Publication Year: 2006

Robert E. Lane is one of the most prominent and distinguished critics of both the human impact of market economies and economic theory, arguing from much research that happiness is more likely to flow from companionship, enjoyment of work, contribution to society, and the opportunity to develop as a person, than from the pursuit of wealth and the accumulation of material goods in market economies. This latest work playfully personalizes the contrast through a dialogue between a humanistic social scientist, Dessi, and a market economist, Adam. It is all too rare to have the two sides talking to each other. Moreover, in Lane's witty and literate hands, it is an open-minded and balanced conversation, in which neither side has all the answers. His unparalleled grasp of interdisciplinary social scientific knowledge is brought to bear on the largest questions of human life: What genuinely makes people happy? How should human society be organized to maximize the quality of human lives? --David O. Sears, Professor of Psychology and Political Science, UCLA "Lane's deep knowledge of the sources of human happiness enables him to develop a powerful critique of economic theory." ---Robert A. Dahl, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Yale University Robert E. Lane is the Eugene Meyer Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Yale University. His previous publications include The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies (2000) and The Market Experience (1991).

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Evolving Values for a Capitalist World


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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

This is an extraordinary book. For anyone—scholar, student, casual reader—it is extraordinary to learn so much in such an entertaining manner. For the scholar, the footnotes and bibliography provide an unsurpassed summary of the newly developing fields of studies that explore the causes and the meanings of quality of life, or happiness, or well-being....

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pp. xi-xii

Dessie wishes to thank, and Adam to acknowledge, those who facili-tated previous exposures of the ideas expressed in this book. Chapter 3, “What’s Wrong with Materialism?” had a selective viewing in PAE News, no. 15, September 4, 2002. Chapter 4, “Humanism: The Value of Persons,” borrows heavily from Robert Lane’s talk at a conference in...

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Spanakopita One: Prologue

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pp. 1-18

Adam, a tall, angular economist with a high forehead and a low threshold for foolishness, confidently entered Clark’s, the local Greek hash house, and seated himself at one of the red leatherette booths by the window. He looked around for his friend, Dessie (named after Desiderius Erasmus), and sighed. What nonsense would this paraphilosopher and...

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Spanakopita Two: What Should We Be Doing?

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pp. 19-40

It was another Wednesday, and Adam seated himself by the window waiting for his all-too-substantial friend to join him in the red leatherette booth. Idly, he wondered if in a wrestling match he could pin Dessie to the mat and concluded that he could not. It would not be difficult to fell him with a sudden unexpected header to the stomach, but it would be impossible to keep this slippery adversary down long enough to pin both...

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Spanakopita Three: What’s Wrong with Materialism?

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pp. 41-61

Adam entered the restaurant angry. He had been thinking about Dessie’s high moral tone in attacking materialism, as though he was dealing with an ethical norm, like virtue, that could or should be justified as its own reward. “Materialism must be judged by its consequences,” he said, “and not as a virtue or a vice in itself. It’s not just your dinner that’s at stake but the whole market system that has brought us so far.” He...

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Spanakopita Four: Humanism: The Value of Persons

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pp. 63-80

Although the academic at lunch is not a pretty sight, this did not bother Dessie today, even their picking up their asparagus in their fingers, like the British, because today he had to expose his delicate concept of the humanist society to Adam’s withering comment. Last week he could attack Adam’s materialism, feeling himself a spokesman for a substantial...

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Spanakopita Five: The Humanist-Materialist Axis

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pp. 81-99

The world has changed,” said the waitress as she came to take Adam’s order. “Your chubby friend used to be almost as prompt as you, and now you have been fidgeting here for ten minutes.” “Sorry,” said Dessie as he slid tardily into his niche. “A student asked how the market would work the day after the nuclear bombs dropped on Wall Street.” He paused to catch his breath. “The world has changed,”...

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Spanakopita Six: Diminishing Returns to Happiness

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pp. 101-120

Are you happy?” asked Dessie in a cheerful tone as he settled himself in the front booth next to the window that always seemed reserved for him “Very happy,” said Adam in his usual lugubrious tone of discontent. “Why?” “Most people say they are, even in the less-developed countries,”1 said Adam. “Those of your colleagues who dare mention the word happiness...

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Spanakopita Seven: Better People

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pp. 121-142

Adam arrived at Clark’s before Dessie and fell to wondering what Dessie had in store today. He feared the worst: more on the wonky side of the problems of humanism that left him uneasy and uncertain about how to respond. Last time, in Spanakopita 6, when they had talked about what Dessie called happiness and Adam called utility, they shared a common ...

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Spanakopita Eight: Getting Rich the Right Way

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pp. 143-162

The red booths were the same, and the service was, as usual, brisk, but Adam seemed both older and more tired. His weariness probably had nothing to do with his bouts with Dessie, but he thought it did. Nothing is more troubling than an assault on one’s belief system, and he felt that, like a seventeenth-century priest exposed to the Reformation, the relentless ...

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Spanakopita Nine • After the End of History

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pp. 163-186

There’s a chill in the air,” said Dessie, referring either to the weather or to his sense of impending defeat in this session. “I hadn’t noticed,” said Adam, feeling rather cheerful for someone of his lugubrious temperament. “Into my heart an air that kills,” continued Dessie in his melancholy strain. “I thought you were looking for the promised land, not looking back on the ‘land of lost content,’”1 said Adam with a twisted smile....


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pp. 187-225

E-ISBN-13: 9780472024179
E-ISBN-10: 0472024175
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472069156
Print-ISBN-10: 0472069152

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 4 figures
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: Evolving Values for a Capitalist World