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Why is sobriety necessary, and the obstacles to its implementation?

Presentation : ÉcoInfo Conference 26 november 2019


Abstract : The notion of sobriety refers to an implicit distinction between desires and needs, the distinction between the two coming from the notion of limit and the search for "authentic happiness". But this approach is ambiguous or at least incomplete: as much as the question of natural needs (e.g. physiological) seems simple, the question of artificial needs (e.g. cultural) seems more delicate. What is the basis for distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate needs? Who decides? The existence of environmental limits seems to provide an element of appreciation, but is it the only one?


Moreover, the modern economy plays on the mechanics of desire to constantly create new "needs". This mechanism is maintained through two related processes, which are part of a competitive dynamic between individuals: conspicuous consumption and mimetic consumption. Other competitive dynamics oppose the emergence of a sober society: economic competitions between large industrial, banking and financial companies, and geopolitical competitions between States. These three competitive dynamics are not independent.


The presentation will briefly develop these different points and will seek to provide avenues for reflection on the obstacles and levers for the emergence of a sober society.