Volume 16, Issue 1, Spring 2009
Caroline W. Meline
A Philosophical Approach to Dieting
CompatibiIism, Creativity, and Weight Control
Eschewing talk about a strong or weak will, I view the will of the dieter to be essentially identical to that of the normal eater, and say they differ only in the luck of their circumstances. However, I adopt a compatibilist approach to the will, generally, such that the dieter, despite having unlucky circumstances, is responsible for her efforts to lose weight. I base this on Hook's view that a person does not know what she can do before doing it, and that she can "redetermine the direction of events" through effort. But a model of "redetermining" the will in which this is a conscious activity is insufficient to address the dieter's problem. I advocate consideration of another dimension of experience, based on the psychoanalytic theory of D.W. Winnicott, in which creative insight arises from the unconscious true self. I suggest that creative insight bypasses the will to radically change the dieter's perspective in a way that conscious strategies alone cannot achieve. I conclude that freedom is possible on the basis of conscious willing and in tapping the unconscious true self.