Aspiration : The Agency of Becoming

3.66 (91 ratings by Goodreads)
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Becoming someone is a learning process; and what we learn is the new values around which, if we succeed, our lives will come to turn. Agents transform themselves in the process of, for example, becoming parents, embarking on careers, or acquiring a passion for music or politics. How can such activity be rational, if the reason for engaging in the relevant pursuit is only available to the person one will become? How is it psychologically possible to feel the
attraction of a form of concern that is not yet one's own? How can the work done to arrive at the finish line be ascribed to one who doesn't (really) know what one is doing, or why one is doing it? In Aspiration, Agnes Callard asserts that these questions belong to the theory of aspiration. Aspirants are
motivated by proleptic reasons, acknowledged defective versions of the reasons they expect to eventually grasp. The psychology of such a transformation is marked by intrinsic conflict between their old point of view on value and the one they are trying to acquire. They cannot adjudicate this conflict by deliberating or choosing or deciding-rather, they resolve it by working to see the world in a new way. This work has a teleological structure: by modeling oneself on the person he or she is
trying to be, the aspirant brings that person into being. Because it is open to us to engage in an activity of self-creation, we are responsible for having become the kinds of people we are.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 306 pages
  • 140 x 209 x 19mm | 350g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0190085142
  • 9780190085148
  • 288,277

Review quote

Agnes Callard develops and defends a fascinating new idea about aspiration, the form of agency involving the rational process by which we work to care about something new. For Callard, aspiring agents exhibit a distinctive form of rationality that is not a matter of decision-making at all. Choosing to undergo a personal revolution is, rather, aspiring to a certain type of self-change. Deep and broad in its philosophical reach, the book makes a major contribution to
our understanding of practical rationality and moral psychology." - L.A. Paul, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill A superb, agenda-setting addition to recent philosophical investigations into 'transformative experience', the kind of experience that results in changes to one's basic values. Callard rightly singles out "aspiration" - a change in one's values that, she argues, is rationally guided by what those values will become - as a critically important species of such experience, and brings out, with clarity, insight, and brilliance, the deep connections between this
phenomenon and a range of other central topics in moral psychology and the theory of practical reasoning, such as the nature of moral responsibility, internalism about reasons, and akrasia." - Ned Hall, Harvard University Moving, quietly profound..."-The New Yorker I may suspect that classical music has value, though I cannot myself see it. And so I may strive to uncover the sublimity of Schumann. Yet such aspirational attempts to acquire taste are bewildering. For if I cannot see the value of classical music, why should I pursue it so ardently? Agnes Callard seeks to solve this puzzle by claiming that aspiration is dualistic. When we aspire, we are in transition: we are shedding who we are now and becoming who we aspire to
be. As such, says Callard, our aspirational behaviour must answer to both aspects of our being: to our current values and our inchoate grasp of our later values."-The Times Literary Supplement
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About Agnes Callard

Agnes Callard was born in Budapest, Hungary, raised in New York City and received a BA from the University of Chicago. She left Chicago for the University of California, Berkeley, where she received an MA in Classics and a PhD in Philosophy, and subsequently returned to the University of Chicago to teach in the philosophy department. Her areas of specialization are ancient philosophy and ethics.
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Rating details

91 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 32% (29)
4 33% (30)
3 19% (17)
2 2% (2)
1 14% (13)
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