The best way to waste time

JohnPerry.gifCritics say modern philosophy is a useless waste of time. They are wrong. At its best, modern philosophy tells us how to waste time usefully. Philosophy’s great recent achievement, in this respect and perhaps overall, is the theory of structured procrastination.

In a 1995 paper, Structured Procrastination, John Perry, a professor of philosophy at Stanford University, explains: “I have been intending to write this essay for months. Why am I finally doing it? Because I finally found some uncommitted time? Wrong. I have papers to grade, textbook orders to fill out, a National Science Foundation proposal to referee, dissertation drafts to read. I am working on this essay as a way of not doing all of those things. This is the essence of what I call structured procrastination…

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

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