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Don't Treat Your Life as a Project

Don't let the lure of the dramatic arc distract you from the digressive amplitude of being alive.

- Kieran Setiya -

Don't Treat Your Life as a Project

"The idea that we narrate our lives to ourselves, and that doing so is part of living well, is sufficiently commonplace that its most vocal critic, the philosopher Galen Strawson, could describe it as "a fallacy of our age." He lists an impressive roster of advocates, including the neurologist and author Oliver Sacks ("Each of us constructs and lives a 'narrative'...this narrative is us"), the psychologist Jerome Bruner ("We become the autobiographical narratives by which we 'tell about' our lives")...It sounds appealing, in a way. Who doesn't think they have a brilliant memoir in them? But the question isn't rhetorical: Many of us don't think that and a lot of the rest are kidding themselves. "I have absolutely no sense of my life as a narrative with form, or indeed as a narrative without form," Strawson writes. And yet he seems to be living quite well." In the following piece, Kieran Setiya, a philosopher at MIT, makes a case for resisting the tendency to see your life as a narrative journey. { read more }

Be The Change

If inspired, experiment this week with tuning in to, what Setiya calls, "the pure abundance of incident," and notice what that opens up beyond your usual way of parsing your life and its happenings.


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