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Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 - Weal. The reorientation of well-being

György Folk

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Budapest Conference 2016


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Presentation by György Folk

Degrowth may appear for the majority in the developed world a sacrifice of the human comfort we live in, a loss of the present standard of life or well-being. Weal proposes a radical reorientation of our understanding about the human good. Biological and social research produced a multitude of partial results that shed light on how humans live well. Equating the level of production, consumption or happiness with well-being becomes more and more problematic.

Enhanced sustainability and the improved provisions for the quality of human life seem to be mutually exclusive given the limitless pursuit for economic growth and the finiteness of any earthly system. Endless development as a final good descends from positive incrementalism: the more - the better.

A non-infinite conceptualisation of the human good can be built on evolutionary, anthropological, physiological and psychological evidence on human needs. What makes up for good human existence is shared by all humans as the fundamental factors of liveable human reality. Humans grasp them regardless acculturation, historical period and geographical relatedness. This is a whole, non-dividable and unalterable oneness that human communities with actual livelihoods always live up to. A descriptive understanding yields aspects that are indispensable for well-living. A limited set of aspects will suffice to map this human whole(some)ness.

Weal is conceived as a oneness approachable by eight cardinal needs, each satisfiable by elementary satisfiers. Weal is operationalised as a domain in multidimensional space between the extremes of drastic insufficiency and harmful excess.

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