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Procrastination: The Thief of Time

September 24, 2010

Damon Young in The Philosopher’s Magazine:

Procrastination is not simply “putting something off”. Nor is it just failing to do something: to write a masterpiece or knock out a Karate opponent. Lack of talent or bad luck is enough to frustrate these endeavours. And procrastination can’t simply be weakness of will, as this requires an unrealised judgement or intention, and sometimes we procrastinate by never really judging or intending at all. After a cringe-worthy party, we say we’re going to tell our friend her lover’s a pretentious whiner, but we don’t really mean to tell her. The plan was vague, weak or just no plan at all. Procrastination is hard to define, despite its familiarity. What is this chronic bugbear? How can we to avoid it?

These are the central questions of The Thief of Time. Divided into three parts – the nature and causes of procrastination; its relationship to vice; and ways of overcoming it – the volume is the first to give a dedicated philosophical treatment of the problem. The contributors are chiefly philosophers, though essays like George Ainslie’s “Procrastination: The Basic Impulse” and Don Ross’ “Economic Models of Procrastination” give economic analyses. [More]

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