How to rationally approach life's transformative experiences
In a widely discussed forthcoming article, “What you can't expect when you're expecting,” L. A. Paul challenges culturally and philosophically traditional views about how to rationally make major life-decisions, most specifically the decision of whether to have children. The present paper argues that because major life-decisions (such as bearing a child) are transformative, the only rational way to approach them is to become resilient people: people who do not “over-plan” their lives or expect their lives to play out “according to plan”—people who understand that beyond a certain limit, life cannot be rationally planned and must be accepted as it comes. I show that this focus on resilience—on self-mastery—stands in direct opposition to culturally dominant attitudes toward decision-making, which focus not on the self-mastery but on control and mastery over one's surroundings. In short, I argue that if Paul's general point about transformative experiences is correct, it follows that we rationally ought to adopt a very different approach to self-development, and to the moral education of our children, than today's culturally dominant approaches. Finally, I argue that future empirical research may reveal that resilience itself could clarify specifically which type of decision to make in cases of transformative experience.
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