The Idea of Luxury

The Idea of Luxury : A Conceptual and Historical Investigation

3.25 (4 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Electronic book text

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In this far-ranging and innovative study Christopher Berry explores the meanings and ramifications of the idea of luxury. Insights from political theory, philosophy and intellectual history are utilised in a sophisticated conceptual analysis that is complemented by a series of specific historical investigations. Dr Berry suggests that the value attached to luxury is a crucial component in any society's self-understanding, and shows how luxury has changed from being essentially a negative term, threatening social virtue, to a guileless ploy supporting consumption. His analytic focus upon the interplay between the notions of need and desire suggests that luxuries fall into four categories - sustenance, shelter, clothing and leisure - and these are exemplified in sources as diverse as classical philosophy and contemporary advertising.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1139240846
  • 9781139240840

Review quote

Berry's monograph, written throughout with great clarity, provides keys to an understanding of the origins of these contemporary issues. His research will prove useful to historians of ideas and also to specialists in ethics, legal philosophy, economics and politics. The Oyster Club, The Scottish Journal of Philosophy
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Table of contents

Part I. Preliminary Essay: 1. Luxury goods; Part II. The Classical Paradigm: 2. The platonic prelude; 3. The Roman response; 4. The Christian contribution; Part III. The Transition to Modernity: 5. The de-moralisation of luxury; 6. The eighteenth-century debate; 7. The historicity of needs; Part IV. Politics, Needs and Desires: 8. Luxury and the politics of needs and desires; 9. Luxury, necessity and social identity.
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