setembro 08, 2019

Para evitar a Crise Existencial evitem a Narrativa

Kieran Setiya é professor de filosofia no MIT e escreveu o livro “Midlife: A Philosophical Guide” (2017) que se tornou uma espécie bestseller no tema das crises existenciais da meia-idade. Li o artigo que deu origem ao livro (passei depois os olhos pelo livro mas acrescentava pouco mais) e deixo aqui as linhas principais defendidas pelo autor, sendo que a razão que me levou a realizar esta partilha é de que a conclusão maior vai contra tudo aquilo que tenho feito e estudado nas última décadas. E o pior é que conhecendo tão bem como conheço o modo de organização da vida no formato narrativo, tendo a dar a razão a Setiya. Diz-nos ele que não podemos resolver a crise se continuarmos a tentar construir histórias sobre aquilo que fomos, somos ou queremos ser. Para Setiya, o problema assenta na diferença entre os valor atribuído ao que fazemos, entre o télico e atélico, ou seja, entre "ter um fim" ou ser simplesmente "interminável".

Como  surge a crise existencial de meia-idade:
“As we have seen, what elicits the crisis, for many, is a confrontation with mortality. Something about the fact that we will eventually die, that life is finite, makes us feel that everything we do is empty or futile. It is essential to the experience I have in mind, however, that this sense of emptiness or futility is not an apprehension that nothing matters: that there is no reason to do one thing instead of another. Even in the grip of the crisis, I know that there is reason to care for those I love, read the books and watch the movies I admire, do my job well, if I can, be responsible, help and not do harm. It does not seem worthless to prevent the suffering of others, or impossible to justify action. Yet somehow the succession of projects and accomplishments, each one rational in itself, falls short.”
Isto levaria a pensar que o problema é a falta de narrativa:
"What is missing is narrative unity: a story of development and progress over time, not just of repetition. "
Mas Setiya diz-nos:
“Imagine someone who accepts the underived value of intellectual progress. It matters in itself, according to her, whether we answer scientific questions and solve mathematical problems. These things are worth doing apart from their relation to anything else. As she sees it, the value of discovering truths and proving theorems does not derive from their technological applications. It does not even derive from the prior value of knowing. What matters most fundamentally is finding out. Her days are dedicated to pure science, replete with activities of these kinds.”
“There are problems involved in living an episodic life, a life devoted to consecutive, limited projects, but the answer does not lie in the construction of a larger story into which the episodes fit. My description of the scientist anticipates this point, since it does not rest on the absence of an over- arching narrative. Even if she has a consuming goal, the search for a grand theory of widgets, and she is convinced that the search has underived value, the scientist may wonder what, in the end, she will have achieved. Suppose she has the final theory. Now what?”

Preparando a resposta:
A) Telic: “What I will call a “telic activity” includes in its nature a terminal point, the point at which it will be finished and thus exhausted. The scientist’s activities are telic in this sense. They are finished, and exhausted, when she has proved the theorem, discovered the truth, solved the scientific problem. Walking home tonight is a telic activity, since it aims at getting home. So is writing this essay, since it is over when the essay is done. Almost anything we would be inclined to call a “project” will be telic: buying a house, starting a family, earning a promotion, getting a job. These are all things one can finish doing or complete.”
B) Atelic: “Importantly, however, not all activities are like this. Some do not aim at a point of termination or exhaustion: a final state in which they have been achieved and there is no more to do. For instance, as well as walking home, getting from A to B, you can go for a walk with no particular destination. Going for a walk is an “atelic” activity. The same is true of hanging out with friends or family, of studying philosophy, of living a decent life. You can stop doing these things, and you eventually will, but you cannot finish or complete them in the relevant sense. It is not just that you can repeat them, as you could repeatedly walk home, but that they do not have a telic character. There is no outcome whose achievement exhausts them. They are not in that way limited.” 

A explicação:  
“This is what disturbed the scientist: not that her ends had only derivative value, but that they were projects she would complete, one after another. Hence the feeling of repetition and futility. Again and again, her engagement with what she cares about removes it from her life, as a completed task, and she is forced to start over. (..) [the] work is devoted to destroying its own purpose. It is not a mistake to have ends like this. But it is a mistake for them to dominate one’s life.”
“the appeal to telic ends explains the connection between death and the midlife crisis. Pausing in the midst of the life, in the rush of demands and deadlines, I know that I am half-way through. Death is not imminent. I am not afraid that I will not finish the projects I am engaged in right now. But the best I can hope for is another forty years. In the end, my works, whatever they count for, will be numbered. This is distinctive of telic ends. One asks how many, not how much. How many essays published? How many books? How many students taught? To think about the finitude of life in the face of death is to see that one’s ends are telic, if they are. It is in this mood that I imagine looking back, counting my achievements and failures, wondering “What do they add up to, after all?” 
"If the problem is that our ends are telic, we can see why death elicits the crisis and why immortality does not help. Gaining infinite duration does not affect the nature of our projects. It does not change how we engage with them; nor does it give us atelic ends. Unlike the diagnosis in terms of derivative value, this argument explains how the midlife crisis involves our relation to time (..) So long as your new ambitions are telic, however, they will at most distract you from the structural defect in your life. Fast cars and wild affairs are not the answer.”

Como proceder:
“You can resolve the midlife crisis, or prevent it, by investing more deeply in atelic ends. Among the activities that matter most to you, the ones that give meaning to your life, must be activities that have no terminal point. Since they cannot be completed, your engagement with atelic ends will not exhaust or destroy them.”
“Instead of studying Aristotle in order to write an essay, which is a telic end, one writes an essay in order to study Aristotle (..) Do not work only to solve this problem or discover that truth, as if the tasks you complete are all that matter; solve the problem or seek the truth in order to be at work. When you relate to it in this way, your life is not a mere succession of deeds. There is no pressure to feel that the activities you care about are done with, one by one, and so to ask, repeatedly, what next? The projects you value may end but the process of pursuing them does not.”

A demonstração final da irrelevância da narrativa:
“If this is the answer to the midlife crisis, it is clear why narrative is not the point. The defect of the episodic life is not that the episodes do not fit into a larger structure of development and growth, but that their temporal structure is telic. The remedy is to engage in them for the sake of atelic ends, in a life that need not have variety, suspense, or drama. The contemplative life may be quite dull from a novelist’s point of view. But if it is shaped by a concern for contemplation that is not purely instrumental, it is not subject to the sense of exhaustion and emptiness that marks the critical phase.”
“A focus on atelic ends, which have no future goals, may even conflict with the desire for narrative. Stories differ in many ways, and I have no theory of narrative to propose. But it tends towards closure: beginnings, middles, and ends. If what you care about most of all is that your life have a certain arc, then in travelling along that arc you are moving towards a point at which the arc is complete and your purpose is lost. If you are telling the story of your life, and you hope to avoid the midlife crisis, better not to tell a story of this kind.”

E assim temos a Filosofia a tentar responder a algo que a Psicologia continua a ter problemas em desvendar. Por outro lado, demonstra que estudar filosofia, que estudar a cultura que nos transforma todos os dias naquilo que somos, ainda tem muito a dar a sociedade, ao contrário daquilo que os colegas das exatas teimam em propagandear.

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