IX—On Being Bored Out of Your Mind


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    Meeting of the Aristotelian Society, held in Senate House, University of London, on Monday, 8th March, 2004 at 4.15 p.m.


ABSTRACT The contemporary philosophical debate over practical reasoning—over how one ought to figure out what to do—has been almost entirely focused on whether there is more to it than means-ends reasoning. But a prior and very difficult question has to do with why instrumental deliberation is so important an aspect of our cognitive life (regardless of whether there is anything else). I consider an answer broached by Harry Frankfurt, that having ends is the alternative to being literally bored out of one's mind, and adapt an argument from John Stuart Mill's political and psychological writings to show what more there is to not being bored than just having something to aim for.