Getting to know Akrasia: starting tomorrow


Mid-terms are just round the corner, and you’ve finally came to ask yourself, “Why didn’t I study before?Or even pay attention in class?” Well, it’s okay. Often times, we do silly things. Sure we know they are dumb, but we choose to do it anyway.

When you come to think of it, this is very much unlike how we usually behave – always preferring the best. For instance (disregarding network speed), when you watch videos on Youtube, will you ever go for 360p when there is 1080p available?

If you have ever spent time wondering why one would go against his/her better judgement, it is perfectly normal. Don’t feel like you’re a weirdo thinking about nonsense. Truth is, smart people like Socrates and Aristotle had both asked the same question before. The conclusion they came up with: akrasia.

In philosophy, akrasia refers to the condition in which we know what’s best to do, but end up doing something else. Akratic behaviors are everywhere, especially among us college students.

You know skipping breakfast is bad, but you still stick with two meals a day. You know you have a quiz tomorrow morning, but instead of going to bed early, you choose to watch Jersey Shore before revising. There is a group project due on Friday, but you don’t get started until Wednesday night.

Now, you may be wondering what the difference between procrastination and akrasia is.  In fact, procrastination is a kind of akratic behavior. When procrastinating, people value the well-being of their current selves over that of their future selves. Despite being aware of the fact that averting and delaying their tasks will cause great regret, they keep satisfying their wants before dealing with them with reasons. This is clearly going against one’s better judgement.

You can never really tell if akrasia is a good thing or not. It’s the norm to go with what’s best; yet at certain times, following your heart is not a bad move either. That being said, one thing is for sure: procrastination is NOT justified.

So, stop wasting money on fancy schedules that you know you’ll stop using after February (simply keeping a schedule does not mean you will necessarily follow it); every time you promise to do something someday, remind yourself that “someday” is not a day of the week.