Simon Critchley on the Desire of Longevity
Simon Critchly is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. He is the author of many books,including On Heidegger's Being and Time and Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance. The Book of Dead Philosophers was written on a hill overlooking Los Angeles, where he was a scholar at the Getty Research Institute. He lives in Brooklyn.
Question: Could a desire for longevity be seen as an effort to better know oneself?
Critchley: One thing that you can get from looking at the history of philosophy, philosophies like Spinoza for example, is an emphasis on the present, right, and Wickenstein says somewhere, and it’s a deep remark, that the eternal life is given to those who live in the present and living in the present is the most difficult thing to do. We’re always living either in the past, which is the past of whatever, a glorious childhood or victimization and suffering, or living in a future, which is a future of, you know, when I will be rich and famous, or whatever it might be. We escape the present and you know, one of the things that philosophy can do I think is to allow one to emphasize the importance of this never-recurring transient present through which we live
The philosopher emphasizes the need to be aware of "a never returning transient present."
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