David Foster Wallace on the Good Life

In Steven M. Cahn & Maureen Eckert (eds.), Freedom and the Self: Essays on the Philosophy of David Foster Wallace. Columbia University Press. pp. 133-168 (2015)

Authors
Nathan Ballantyne
Fordham University
Justin Tosi
Texas Tech University
Abstract
This chapter presents David Foster Wallace's views about three positions regarding the good life—ironism, hedonism, and narrative theories. Ironism involves distancing oneself from everything one says or does, and putting on Wallace's so-called “mask of ennui.” Wallace said that the notion appeals to ironists because it insulates them from criticism. However, he reiterated that ironists can be criticized for failing to value anything. Hedonism states that a good life consists in pleasure. Wallace rejected such a notion, doubting that pleasure could play a fundamental role in the good life. Lastly, narrative theories characterize the good life by fidelity to a unified narrative -- a systematic story about one's life, composed of a set of ends or principles according to which one lives. Wallace believed that these theories turn people into spectators, rather than the participants in their own lives.
Keywords David Foster Wallace  well-being  good life  value  ironism  philosophy of literature  hedonism  narrative theories
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DOI 10.7312/columbia/9780231161534.003.0006
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References found in this work BETA

The Sources of Normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.

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