Philosophers' Corner


Issac Neutron's picture
Submitted by Issac Neutron (not verified) on January 28, 2011

I am reminded of the procrastinator's creed: Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. I think procrastination is a form of rebellion---without a cause. Most of us, regardless of how rational, have a few loose screws; a few frayed circuits. This is not remarkable when we consider the light-speed pace of twenty-first century living. I have found solace in procrastination since retiring from a job where things which had to be done yesterday could have all waited until next week. A job where incompetence was rewarded while capable workers were denigrated and leadership was predicated upon political loyalty.

We learn procrastination, in various ways from various people. Initially, we question the utility of it. But, as we learn more about why it used, we understand that it is a coping mechanism which can make our hectic lives more tolerable. Sure, we pay our bills and take our medicines on schedule (if we know what is good for us), but if something can wait until tomorrow---or longer---we take advantage of the option. I am drinking my only can of Labatt's Blue. I could go get more. But it can wait.

james patino's picture
Submitted by james patino (not verified) on January 28, 2011

i'm not really sure if i'm interested in this journey into your choices. to procrastinate, to put off doing an activity, is just a possible relation - thankfully you stayed away from portraying --- procrastination --- as some technical termus and thereby stopping consideration in its real?-ness.

james patino's picture
Submitted by james patino (not verified) on January 29, 2011

Isaac Neutron: The state of a job where its tasks can literally wait for a week or more. that's actually one of the more adept things i've heard in a while. god forbid one actually has a relation with the relatedness of the possible task of the whole state of affairs.

James Decker's picture
Submitted by James Decker (not verified) on January 30, 2011

So the only conversation you're willing to have about procrastination is about how to be rid of it? And you scoff at my email about human malaise as a more apt lens on the issue? You were all quite content to describe the human condition in exclusively utilitarian terms, life as a set of "goals" such as 'moving sandbags'. I felt like I was listening to a conversation among sandbags, unmoved.

My unabridged email to you read as follows...
The problem with adopting economics and logic as the pole star of a philosophy is that you become indistinguishable from corporate motivational speakers. You all sound like a 1-800 motivational advertisement. What of resistance? What of fighting off coercion? Hippies used to speak of this, now they’re all self-important baby boomer careerists. What better example of how impoverished economic and logical pragmatism have become as philosophies of ethics. Again… what of resistance, what of sabotaging the banks!

I challenge you to leave off the predictable fallacy that reason=logic or pleasure=good as the basis for every behavior. What about dwelling in a state of pure human free will? In fact, malaise is the human condition. Art and meditation express precisely this.

Please speak instead of the long history of human free will as expressed through, for example, the flaneurs of Oscar Wilde’s day who would walk turtles on leashes as an expression of liberation from utilitarian philosophy.

James Decker
San Francisco, CA

====follow up===
You did not refute or speak to my comment. You return as quickly as possible to utilitarianism and talk of “rewards.” Economics is not philosophy. Again, I challenge you to speak of art, meditation and RESISTANCE as the height of human possibility. NOT careerism and “accomplishments” such as you trade in at the university.

Snoring over here.
James Decker

yabooo's picture
Submitted by yabooo (not verified) on January 30, 2011

I did not find the this piece very convincing. There is nothing irrational about procrastinating and the mathematical analogy is simply flawed. When faced with a decision, we all have choices. Some of these choice may actually provide more pleasure or enjoyment than the "rational"choice. Hence, procrastinating can certainly add to on'e pleasure.

Tim Savinar's picture
Submitted by Tim Savinar (not verified) on January 30, 2011


As pointed out in the show, this goes back to ideas about the self (addressed in last week's show).

Aside from the fundamental and unanswerable question of philosophy, "What or who is "we"" (the other fundamental and unanswerable question of philosophy is "Is there anything other than one's consciousness"), addressing the statement concerning "feeling" about one's self, I contend, is not really doing philosophy. The duality of the "feeler" and the "feelee," since both are the same person, invites two layers of speculation that defy the use of reason as a tool of investigation. Once reason is not useable, and we can only speculate as to causation WITHOUT using our power of reason, we become only observers, or maybe poets (if we have some very particular language skills). Philosophy is not observation alone; it is the application of reasoning to thoughts.

The idea of self-deception is like this. There really is no such thing, rationally, as knowing something, and then thinking about one's self while BELIEVING what one knows isn't true.

Tim Pychyl's picture
Submitted by Tim Pychyl (not verified) on January 30, 2011

I will jump into this discussion shortly. Quite unexpectedly, only hours after the show yesterday, I was rushed to the hospital in pain. Turns out to be kidney stones (I've torn my achilles tendon completely and experienced less pain than what that little "stone" caused yesterday - amazing). In any case, until I get back here, there's lots of information freely available at - FREE blog on Psychology Today (Don't Delay), FREE podcast on iTunes (iProcrastinate podcast), FREE cartoons (Carpe Diem) and lots of information and research.
cheers for now,

Harold G. Neuman's picture
Submitted by Harold G. Neuman (not verified) on January 30, 2011

I love this blog. Er, well, I do like it a lot. A Vietnamese friend set me straight on liking and loving years ago, saying: we are supposed to love PEOPLE and like THINGS. Anyway, who knew that something as facially innocuous as procrastination could generate such strong opinions? And how could we have predicted it would result in serious philosophical discourse? Thanks to all for participating and especially to Dr. Perry for setting the pot to boil. I think I'll take a nap now. No---it is only 9:30 am---I'll do it later.

Michael J Ahles's picture
Submitted by Michael J Ahles (not verified) on January 31, 2011

I think I'll wait and write my comments tomorrow.
Good Day,


sam's picture
Submitted by sam (not verified) on February 1, 2011

Do you have the names of the songs that were played on the JANUARY 28, 2011 Procrastination show? I heard one, that I really liked. Thanks, Sam


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