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Review of The Thief of Time in The New Yorker [UPDATED]

Mark D. White

WARNING: More indulgent self-promotion ahead...

TOT My book, The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination, edited with Chrisoula Andreou for Oxford University Press, has been reviewed by James Surowiecki for The New Yorker (UPDATED: with a follow-up Q&A with me and Chrisoula here).

From the review:

Academics, who work for long periods in a self-directed fashion, may be especially prone to putting things off: surveys suggest that the vast majority of college students procrastinate, and articles in the literature of procrastination often allude to the author’s own problems with finishing the piece. (This article will be no exception.) But the academic buzz around the subject isn’t just a case of eggheads rationalizing their slothfulness. As various scholars argue in “The Thief of Time,” edited by Chrisoula Andreou and Mark D. White (Oxford; $65)—a collection of essays on procrastination, ranging from the resolutely theoretical to the surprisingly practical—the tendency raises fundamental philosophical and psychological issues. You may have thought, the last time you blew off work on a presentation to watch “How I Met Your Mother,” that you were just slacking. But from another angle you were actually engaging in a practice that illuminates the fluidity of human identity and the complicated relationship human beings have to time. Indeed, one essay, by the economist George Ainslie, a central figure in the study of procrastination, argues that dragging our heels is “as fundamental as the shape of time and could well be called the basic impulse.”

 

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