Philosophical wisdom and practical advice for overcoming the problems of middle age
How can you reconcile yourself with the lives you will never lead, with possibilities foreclosed, and with nostalgia for lost youth? How can you accept the failings of the past, the sense of futility in the tasks that consume the present, and the prospect of death that blights the future? In this self-help book with a difference, Kieran Setiya confronts the inevitable challenges of adulthood and middle age, showing how philosophy can help you thrive.
You will learn why missing out might be a good thing, how options are overrated, and when you should be glad you made a mistake. You will be introduced to philosophical consolations for mortality. And you will learn what it would mean to live in the present, how it could solve your midlife crisis, and why meditation helps.
Ranging from Aristotle, Schopenhauer, and John Stuart Mill to Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as drawing on Setiya’s own experience, Midlife combines imaginative ideas, surprising insights, and practical advice. Writing with wisdom and wit, Setiya makes a wry but passionate case for philosophy as a guide to life.
Kieran Setiya is professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Reasons without Rationalism (Princeton) and Knowing Right from Wrong. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and son.
"Setiya serves as an engaging companion for those in the throes of the dreaded midlife crisis, as he brings the wisdom of the ages to bear on the contemporary malaise. A self-help book with a strong--but not heavy-handed--philosophical foundation."--Kirkus
"Written with charming simplicity and wry humor, Midlife is a philosophically rich source of what might be called ‘the higher life hacks'—reflective ways of dissolving the sense of emptiness and regret that tends to hit each of us with the onset of middle age. A work of disarming wisdom."--Jim Holt, author of Why Does the World Exist?
"As someone who has suffered from a midlife crisis since the age of seven, I found Kieran Setiya's Midlife: A Philosophical Guide both instructive and consoling. If it fails to slim the waistline or stave off death, it nevertheless proves, like a trusted spouse or pet, a very companionable guide on the way to the void. It may even make you, as it did me, see the virtue of being forty-two."--Joshua Ferris, author of To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
"Kieran Setiya's new book is an elegant application of philosophy to the midlife crisis. Whatever your preoccupations on the subject, you will find strategies here important to your peace of mind. Written with urgency and wit, the book has a great mix of philosophy, personal narrative, and practical wisdom. Highly recommended."--Jennifer Michael Hecht, author of Doubt: A History
"In this engaging and insightful book, Kieran Setiya uses the resources of philosophy to illuminate and help allay some familiar forms of anxiety and distress that afflict people just when they are in the prime of their lives."--Samuel Scheffler, author of Death and the Afterlife
Table of Contents:
1 A Brief History of the Midlife Crisis 6
2 Is That All There Is? 29
3 Missing Out 54
4 Retrospection 77
5 Something to Look Forward To 103
6 Living in the Present 127
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Kieran Setiya: