Reality Conditions

Monday, March 20, 2006

Darwin on the Pros and Cons of Marrying

Something I do sometimes when facing a difficult practical decision is to write carefully a list of all the pros and cons of the alternatives, and then weigh them over, even "cancelling out" some of them to see what remains. Of course the procedure is often inconclusive (everything cancels out!), or else reaches the same result I had already decided without admiting it to myself. So I have always suspected that this practice was no more than a pathological symptom of a neurotic-obsessive personality.

Well, maybe it is, but then at least I am in good company, because as I found today in 3 quarks daily, Charles Darwin used the same procedure to decide whether to marry or not. The list of pros and cons he wrote is conserved, and while some parts of it are absolutely hilarious, I confess most of the similar lists I have written are much the same. I should be careful to destroy the evidence after making my decisions from now on.

So go and read it. I offer here only a preview of two "pros" and two "cons".

Pros of marrying:

-My God, it is intolerable to think of spending one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all—No, no, won’t do.
-Object to be beloved and played with. Better than a dog anyhow.

Cons of marrying:

-Cannot read in the evenings.
-Perhaps my wife won’t like London; then the sentence is banishment and degradation into indolent, idle fool.

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