Aging and the Art of Living [NOOK Book]

Overview

In this deeply considered meditation on aging in Western culture, Jan Baars argues that, in today’s world, living longer does not necessarily mean living better. He contends that there has been an overall loss of respect for aging, to the point that understanding and "dealing with" aging people has become a process focused on the decline of potential and the advance of disease rather than on the accumulation of wisdom and the creation of new skills.

To make his case, Baars ...

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Aging and the Art of Living

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Overview

In this deeply considered meditation on aging in Western culture, Jan Baars argues that, in today’s world, living longer does not necessarily mean living better. He contends that there has been an overall loss of respect for aging, to the point that understanding and "dealing with" aging people has become a process focused on the decline of potential and the advance of disease rather than on the accumulation of wisdom and the creation of new skills.

To make his case, Baars compares and contrasts the works of such modern-era thinkers as Foucault, Heidegger, and Husserl with the thought of Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Cicero, and other Ancient and Stoic philosophers. He shows how people in the classical period—less able to control health hazards—had a far better sense of the provisional nature of living, which led to a philosophical and religious emphasis on cultivating the art of living and the idea of wisdom. This is not to say that modern society’s assessments of aging are insignificant, but they do need to balance an emphasis on the measuring of age with the concept of "living in time."

Gerontologists, philosophers, and students will find Baars' discussion to be a powerful, perceptive conversation starter.

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Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
Any college-level collection strong in aging and social insights on the process will find this a thought-provoking discussion.
Choice

This is a vision infused with hope and potential, and in this lies the art of living meaningfully. The last chapters in which Baars describes the rich possibilities of individual story and proposes an alternative idea of aging well are worth the trip.

Educational Gerontology - E. Michael Brady
Recognizing life’s finitude, honoring one’s own personal story, nurturing intergenerational relationships, and seeking to live wisely are among the important ingredients for living the art of aging. Simply raising these issues and helping the reader to understand their importance are reasons enough to encounter this intense yet highly intelligent book.
Canadian Journal on Aging - Debra Sheets
Aging and the Art of Living revitalizes the origins of philosophy which began with the search for the good life... This well-written and clearly organized book weaves poetic insights with precise reflections on topics that include living in time, wisdom, and the meaning of aging. This book makes significant and unique contributions to gerontology by challenging assumptions, articulating alternative perspectives, and inspiring new possibilities for aging and living fully.
Ageing and Society - Ricca Edmondson
This publication — which contains an endless wealth of spurs to thought and engagement — should initiate a long and important conversation in which we learn to treat and to experience ageing more critically, much more creatively and with greater enjoyment.
The Gerontologist - Thomas R. Cole
Jan Baars is the premier philosopher of aging, working in Europe and the United States today. Actually, to call him a philosopher of aging is to diminish the range of his thought and his accomplishments.
Choice
This is a vision infused with hope and potential, and in this lies the art of living meaningfully. The last chapters in which Baars describes the rich possibilities of individual story and proposes an alternative idea of aging well are worth the trip.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781421407098
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Jan Baars is professor of interpretive gerontology at the University for Humanities in Utrecht. He is author and co-editor of almost twenty books, including Aging, Globalization, and Inequality: The New Critical Gerontology, in English, German, French, Finnish, and Dutch.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

The Chronocratic Emperor Has No Clothes 7

Overview 8

1 Chronometric Regimes: The Life Course, Aging, and Time 12

Introduction 12

1.1 Historical Backgrounds of the Chronometric Life Course 16

A Biographical Sandglass 18

Age in Social Legislation 21

Late Modern Systemic Worlds and Life Worlds 22

1.2 Chronometric Life Courses: Beyond Standardization and De-standardization 24

The Continuing Importance of Chronometric Age 31

Chronometric Regimes 36

1.3 Care and Its Chronometric Regimes 38

Chronometric Care and Its Acceleration 41

Time-efficient Lives 43

1.4 Chronometric Aging: Exactly Arbitrary 47

Intrinsic Time and Intrinsic Malleability 50

The Heisenberg Principle of Aging 51

Conclusions 55

2 Exclusion, Activism, and Eternal Youth 58

Introduction 58

2.1 From Natural Passivity to Activating Activities for Older People 60

From "idleness with Dignity" to Being as Being Busy 62

Stay Active: "Use It or Lose It" 63

2.2 The Emergence of an Anti-aging Culture 66

"Don't Call 'em Old, Call 'em Consumers!" 66

"Take Years Off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life" 69

2.3 The Much-desired Long and Invulnerable Life: Magic and Magic Technology 74

A Fundamental Vulnerability 80

Conclusions 81

3 A Passion for Wisdom and the Emergence of an Art of Aging 85

Introduction 85

3.1 Early Greek Thought about the Life Course 86

Solon's Untraditional Views 89

3.2 The Search for Wisdom and the Emergence of an Art of Life 90

Plato's Academy 94

Aristotle's Lyceum 99

The Garden of Epicurus 105

The Stoics 106

Wisdom, Aging, and Old Age 108

3.3 Cicero and the Stoic Art of Living in Old Age 110

Cicero 112

Cato Maior de Senectute: On Old Age 113

Cicero's Defense of Old Age against Four Complaints 114

A Statesman's View of Old Age 117

Conclusions 121

4 Modern Science, the Discovery of a Personal History, and Aging Authentically 127

Introduction 127

4.1 Aging in a World of Meaningful Repetition 129

4.2 (Ir)reversible Time and the Senescing of Organisms 132

Does Nature Repeat Itself Eternally? 136

Nature Changes and Time Is Irreversible 138

Senescing, Irreversible Time, and the Organism 139

4.3 The Idealization of Science and the Epistemological Reduction of Time 144

4.4 The Struggle for a Fuller Experience of Time 150

Augustine: A Threefold Present 150

Bergson: Time as Creativity 154

Husserl: The Phenomenological Experience of Time 155

Heidegger: Authentic Temporal Being in the Face of Death 157

Time Is Lived in Constitutive Life Worlds 162

Conclusions 163

5 Aging and Narrative Identities 169

Introduction 169

5.1 Embedding Aging in Narratives 171

Narratives and Narrative Identity 173

Narrative Integration as a "Good Life" 174

Life Plans 178

"Real Stories" and Textual Issues 182

5.2 A Modest Necessity of Stories 185

Changes, Themes, and Phases 186

Stories: Intertwining the Past, the Present, and the Future 189

Institutional Narrative Practices 191

Narratives of the Life World and the Systemic World 193

Conclusions 195

6 Perspectives-Toward an Art of Aging 198

Introduction 198

6.1 Interhuman Vulnerability and the Dignity of "Unsuccessful" Aging 202

The Vulnerability of the Interhuman Condition 202

Aging and Increasing Vulnerability 205

The Dignity of "Unsuccessful" Aging 206

Autonomy and Structural Paternalism 207

6.2 Toward an Art of Aging: Beyond Conventional Wisdom 212

Older and Wiser? 214

6.3 Toward an Art of Aging: Living in Different Times 223

A Multi-layered Present 224

Kairos: A Sensitivity for Changing Temporal Qualities 226

Activism and Receptivity 227

Memories Have Their Own Times 228

Actions Constitute Time 229

Life Events and Life's Periods 231

The Times of Life Are Finite 231

A Last Question about the Beginning of Time 232

6.4 Toward an Art of Aging: Beyond Longer Lives 235

Aging as Finitization: A Deepening of Unique Lives 236

Unique Lives: Empirical and Ethical 238

Contingent and Existential Limitations 243

Why Do We Age? How Can Aging Be Meaningful? 244

Is It Good to Live Longer? 246

References 253

Index 275

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