This anthology brings together twenty-six short essays discussing the most significant individuals, cultures, and movements that have embraced simple living throughout history. What did Buddha and Jesus think about simple living? What contribution did the ancient Greeks and Romans make? How do the Amish and the Quakers live? And why did Henry Thoreau leave his hometown to live in the woods? Readers will also gain insight into the lives and philosophies of people like Mahatma Gandhi and William Morris, and learn about contemporary eco-social movements, such as those based on permaculture, intentional communities, degrowth, and voluntary simplicity. This deep but engaging book examines these great moments in the story of simple living, and many more, but it looks backwards in order to shed light on the present and future. Read it and be inspired.
‘This engaging book raises one of the key questions of our times, presenting a rich tapestry of perspectives on what it means to live simply.’ – Rob Hopkins, The Transition Handbook
‘Simple Living in History challenges the mentality of waste and extravagance that defines modern industrial lifestyles, reminding us that the answers we need have been here all along, waiting for us to notice them.’ – John Michael Greer, The Wealth of Nature and Green Wizardry
235 pages in print format.
About the Author
Dr Samuel Alexander is a lecturer and researcher at the University of Melbourne, Australia, teaching a course called ‘Consumerism and the Growth Economy: Critical Interdisciplinary Perspectives’ as part of the Master of Environment. He is also co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a research fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute. Alexander’s interdisciplinary research focuses on degrowth, permaculture, voluntary simplicity, ‘grassroots’ theories of transition, and the relationship between culture and political economy. His current research is exploring the aesthetics of degrowth.
His books include Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary (2019, co-authored with Brendan Gleeson); Carbon Civilisation and the Energy Descent Future (2018, co-authored with Josh Floyd); Art Against Empire: Toward an Aesthetics of Degrowth (2017); Wild Democracy: Degrowth, Permaculture, and the Simpler Way (2017); Just Enough is Plenty: Thoreau’s Alternative Economics (2016); Deface the Currency: The Lost Dialogues of Diogenes (2016); Prosperous Descent: Crisis as Opportunity in an Age of Limits (2015); Sufficiency Economy: Enough, for Everyone, Forever (2015); and Entropia: Life Beyond Industrial Civilisation (2013); he is also editor of Voluntary Simplicity: The Poetic Alternative to Consumer Culture (2009) and co-editor of Simple Living in History: Pioneers of the Deep Future (2014). In 2016 he also released a documentary called A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity, co-produced with Jordan Osmond of Happen Films.