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.
Oxford University Press; March 2018
- ISBN 9780190639495
- Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
- Title: Aspiration
- Author: Agnes Callard
Imprint: Oxford University Press
In The Press
"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
About The Author
Agnes Callard is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago.