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Midlife: A Philosophical Guide


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1 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 Conclusion 155 Acknowledgments 161 Notes 163 Index 183

About the Author

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 *
"This is a wonderfully rich and illuminating examination of the turmoil of midlife."---PD Smith, The Guardian
"A delightful amalgam of self-help and intellectual inquiry." * The Economist *
"Setiya is a clear-thinking, plain-speaking companion who doesn't take himself too seriously."---Jeremy Clarke, Literary Review
"Setiya's elegant little volume is a 'philosophical guide' to what he calls the 'existential questions of midlife'."---Jonathan Derbyshire, Financial Times
"Setiya rediscovers very old wisdom here. It might help with a midlife crisis. But really, he is talking about the meaning of life. It is good that analytic philosophy is so much less scared of that topic than it used to be. I very much hope that Setiya's valuable and accessible book might help it to be less afraid also of the stages on life's way."---Christopher Hamilton, Mind
"Mr. Setiya hopes to lift sufferers out of this dip [of midlife] and help them flourish by conveying the insights of modern philosophy. . . . For a philosophy professor, [he] can be refreshingly unstuffy. He doesn't see a flashy sports car as a midlife crisis-mobile, that trite substitute for lost youth and virility. No, he sees it as an opportunity to change from goal-oriented, utilitarian thinking to a life-affirming experience of being in the moment."---Eric Felten, Wall Street Journal
"To me the book has succeeded in making a real difference."---Thomas Poelzler, Ethical Perspectives
"[Setiya's] book is a reminder that philosophy, at its best, can be both wise and humane."---Anil Gomes, Times Literary Supplement
"An accessible exploration of what history's great thinkers have had to say on the subject [of midlife]."---Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star
"There's an uplifting message here for everyone. If you're in midlife, rest assured you wouldn't really enjoy being young again. If you're young, stop worrying about future regret, since even the best choices necessitate loss. And if you're old? Be glad all those panic-inducing choices are behind you."---Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian
has a self-soothing quality. . . . [It] teaches a lesson about midlife: it's sometimes best to go with the flow."---Joshua Rothman, New Yorker
"A model for how to write philosophy clearly and non-technically without lapsing into banality or truism. . . . Warm, lucid and sane."---Joe Moran, Times Higher Education
"A concise, entertaining and humane guide through life's most difficult territory."---Simon Ings, The Spectator

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