MIRROR: Mr. Setiya, there are researchers who deny that there is a midlife crisis at all. Are we perhaps worried about a fantasy?
Setiya: I do not think so. There are persistent gender stereotypes about the midlife crisis – for example, that men have an affair or buy a motorcycle. There is of course no evidence of this. However, surveys of life satisfaction clearly show that this describes a U-curve in the course of existence and has its lowest point between 40 and 50 years – for both genders and across national borders. This period of time does not have to be a full-blown crisis, but it is characterized by relative dissatisfaction.
MIRROR: How can philosophy help?
Setiya: She asks fundamental questions, such as: How do I live a good life in the face of transience? I’m 44, I’m fine, I love my family and my job. However, sometimes I feel emptiness and senselessness, a regret for missed opportunities that I want to get to the bottom of. Philosophy cannot change a person’s past. But it can help accept them. And it can teach us how to deal with the prospect of our own death, the knowledge of our own mortality.