Why Grow Up?: Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age

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Why Grow Up?: Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age by Susan Neiman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

A grown-up, Neiman writes, helps to move the world closer to what it should be while never losing sight of what it is. Why Grow Up? Skip to main content.


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there is Why Grow Up?: Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age

By Susan Neiman. Idealisation, Melanie Klein posited, is only the mirror image of contempt, and nowhere does her insight resonate more than in regard to our so-called worship of youth. What better recipe for splitting our lives between an infantilised first act and its increasingly embittered aftermath?

Our world, Harrison argues, has become as rich in genius — in the proliferation of techno-scientific innovation — as it is poor in wisdom, defined by Hannah Arendt as a loving concern for the continuity of the world. So how, when the force of an entire culture seems to be ranged against maturity, can we make a serious case for growing up?


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The question takes Neiman to debates at the heart of Enlightenment moral philosophy. Assertions of right and wrong derive from feelings, not facts, and the outrage you may feel in the face of this claim only proves its point.

Why Grow Up?: Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age

This Humean scepticism has crept insidiously into our culture. Countless dead civilisations warn us against an excess of wisdom over genius. Our culture is obsessed with youth-and why not? What's the appeal of growing old, of gaining responsibilities and giving up on dreams, of steadily trading possibility for experience? The philosopher Susan Neiman argues that the absence of appealing models of maturity is not an accident: by describing life as a downhill process, we prepare young people to expect-and demand-very little from it.

In Why Grow Up? In growing up, we move from the boundless trust of childhood to the peculiar mixture of disappointment and exhilaration that comes with adolescence.


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  8. Maturity, however, means finding the courage to live in a world of painful uncertainty without giving in to dogma or despair. A grown-up, Neiman writes, helps to move the world closer to what it should be while never losing sight of what it is.

    Why Grow Up?