Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Philosophy 1A

As writers I’m sure you spend a lot of time balancing family, work, and writing. I know I often feel like a high-wire act edging my way across with a balancing bar in hand and praying there’s a safety net below.

I was taking a break the other day–no family, no work, no writing– and I stumbled upon a great article about philosophy. Remember that first-year course in college when you learned about existentialism and then had to figure out how to pronounce it?

I had the idea that if I re-visited some of those master thinkers I might figure out how to do a better balancing act. I’m not sure if it will work, but I’ll share what I came up with and you can let me know.

Kant: “Categorical Imperative”

Whenever you make a moral decision, test it by asking what would happen if everyone did what you’re considering doing.

Simple Writer Me: What would happen if everybody failed to meet a deadline? The consequences of that sent me back to my re-write almost immediately.

Hume: “Causation”

People (writers included) often base their decisions on how past events have linked up, one causing the other. They believe that if something happened a certain way in the past it will happen that same way the next time. However, Hume maintained that’s necessarily true. Not all balls thrown will break the neighbors window.

Simple Writer Me: Not all queries to agents will be rejected. I wrote another query.

Descartes: ”I think, therefore, I am.”

You can’t prove that you exist by simply touching your head. You have to think about who you are to truly be alive.

Simple Writer Me: Writing is thinking. When I’m writing I’m truly alive. I wrote a chapter.

Aristotle: “Golden Mean”

Find a half-way point between two vices to be truly balanced.

Simple Writer Me: I can write and forget work and family or I can write for a certain number of hours, take care of work for a certain number of hours, and enjoy my family for a certain number of hours. I created a schedule that is flexible , but fair and balanced.

My scheduling effort satisfied Kant’s Categorical Imperative (If everybody had a fair and flexible schedule, the world would be so much easier to live in.) It followed Hume’s Causation (Just because other schedules haven’t worked . . . ), and was in line with Descartes’ idea too because I had a lot of thinking about who I was– writer, wife, mother, daughter, forced laborer–while I created that thing!

I’m feeling very virtuous and much more balanced.

Helpful? What other philosophy might help us meet the challenges of writing and everyday life?


  1. Great ways to connect the philosophies to your own life! I do find it hard to balance everything. But now with fall here and kids in school, it is getting a little easier.

  2. Really interesting, Lee. Whatever it takes to create balance in life--even if it's philosophical theories--is great in my book.


Please say something to me, anything. Well, not anything, but a kind word will do.