restricted access “We shall look into it tomorrow”: Kierkegaard and the Art of Procrastination

In this paper, I argue that procrastination must be construed as a kind of psychic conflict, specifically a conflict between first-order and second-order desires familiar from Plato’s moral psychology as well as more recent philosophy of action, such as Harry Frankfurt’s account of freedom of the will. On this view of procrastination, we can compare it to other kinds of first- and second-order conflict such as akrasia (weakness of the will), addiction, and boredom. Kierkegaard’s thought offers a particularly urgent and ethically freighted analysis of the apparently banal experience of putting things off. The paper concludes with a suggestion of how these everyday instances of psychic conflict can lead us to philosophy—albeit philosophy considered as a particular kind of self-understanding.