Do You Have the Right to Make Promises?

Making and breaking resolutions is key to becoming what you are, not what you wish to be

The most interesting thing about resolutions is not that we make them, but the various ways we find to break them. We have entered the month where New Year's resolutions are laid to rest. My resolve is usually no match for this bleak stretch of midwinter. I suspect it is only matter of time until I resign myself to frozen inactivity. I will come to see the strange paradox of making promises to myself: I am not the same man I was at New Years, the man who promised to jog regardless of snowstorms or to forego my daily beer regardless of the craving. Philosophers have a name for this sort of situation: akrasia, or weakness of will in which one acts against his or her better judgment.

Akrasia is usually described as a type of “losing control,” and in some cases, I guess this is right.  Breaking a promise can be so sudden, so dramatic, it appears one has really lost his or her mind in the process. Losing control, however, is often more measured and self-conscious. I c

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