The Long Life

Paperback | September 16, 2010

byHelen Small

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The Long Life invites the reader to range widely from the writings of Plato through to recent philosophical work by Derek Parfit, Bernard Williams, and others, and from Shakespeare's King Lear through works by Thomas Mann, Balzac, Dickens, Beckett, Stevie Smith, Philip Larkin, to more recentwriting by Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and J. M. Coetzee.Helen Small argues that if we want to understand old age, we have to think more fundamentally about what it means to be a person, to have a life, to have (or lead) a good life, to be part of a just society. What did Plato mean when he suggested that old age was the best place from which to practicephilosophy - or Thomas Mann when he defined old age as the best time to be a writer - and were they right? If we think, as Aristotle did, that a good life requires the active pursuit of virtue, how will our view of later life be affected? If we think that lives and persons are unified, much asstories are said to be unified, how will our thinking about old age differ from that of someone who thinks that lives and/or persons can be strongly discontinuous? In a just society, what constitutes a fair distribution of limited resources between the young and the old? How, if at all, shouldrecent developments in the theory of evolutionary senescence alter our thinking about what it means to grow old? This is a groundbreaking book, deep as well as broad, and likely to alter the way in which we talk about one of the great social concerns of our time - the growing numbers of those living to be old, and the growing proportion of the old to the young.

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The Long Life invites the reader to range widely from the writings of Plato through to recent philosophical work by Derek Parfit, Bernard Williams, and others, and from Shakespeare's King Lear through works by Thomas Mann, Balzac, Dickens, Beckett, Stevie Smith, Philip Larkin, to more recentwriting by Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and J. M...

Helen Small was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and studied at Victoria University of Wellington and at the University of Cambridge. She taught English Literature at the University of Bristol from 1993 to 1996, and since 1996 has been Fellow in English at Pembroke College, Oxford. From 2001 to 2004 she held a Leverhulme Major Researc...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:360 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.01 inPublished:September 16, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019959256X

ISBN - 13:9780199592562

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Platonic Threshhold (Plato and Thomas Mann)2. On Seeing the End (Aristotle and King Lear)3. Narrative Unity of Lives (Epicureanism, the Narrative View, Saul Bellow)4. The Power of Choosing (Prudential Life Planning, Philip Larkin, Stevie Smith)5. Where Self-Interest Ends (Derek Parfit and Balzac)6. The Bounded Life (Adorno's Metaphysics, Dickens, Beckett)7. Now or Never (Bernard Williams, J. M. Coetzee, Philip Roth)8. Evolved Senescence (Evolutionary theory, Michael Ignatieff's Scar Tissue)Conclusion

Editorial Reviews

"Small... deserves to feel good, for she has argued tirelessly, written an impressively researched book, and commanded the interest of sceptics more than twice her age." --Frank Kermode, London Review of Books 06/12/2007