:: Interviews archive ( click for A-Z index)

The Total City: An Interview with Will Self published 30/05/2015


If people really, really are deciding to do whatever the hell they want to at any moment of the day, why does the city run with such regularity? And the answer is that people aren’t autonomous. It’s back to flow dynamics. We’re always trying to keep at bay the fact that we know that the city, by definition, deprives us of our autonomy. So once you’re deprived of your autonomy, you relocate your feeling body in the city itself. Since you’ve been annulled, you’re just part of this flow — what are you flowing through? So the way to humanise the fact that you’re dehumanised is to infuse the city with corporeality. I don’t think anybody does it at a conscious level. If you stopped somebody in the Metro, in the rush hour, and said, ‘Do you realise you haven’t chosen to go down here? You haven’t chosen to go to work, and you’re not even choosing to go home now, you’re not acting out of free will. You have no more free will than a drop of water,’ they’d look at you like you were completely mad, right? Nobody wants to be conscious of that fact.

Jo Mortimer interviews Will Self in Paris.

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Why Murder Philosophers? published 29/05/2015


Montaigne says that death’s power over us comes from its “strangeness,” from that when it strikes it usually finds us unprepared. That’s why we need to devise spiritual exercises whereby we make death a familiar presence in our lives – “domesticate” it, if you will. Here’s one recipe that he proposes: “let us frequent [death], let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death. At every instant let us evoke it in our imagination under all its aspect.” So we have to bring death into the midst of our existence, show it hospitality, give it shelter and take good care of it.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Costica Bradatan.

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The Good Dark – an interview with Ryan Van Winkle published 25/05/2015


What I’ve found recently as I’ve been assembling and discussing The Good Dark is that through my poems I’m speaking to myself and trying to come to terms with what being alive is and how I feel about it and discovering where these feelings may come from. I don’t think there are any answers, but there are a lot of different ways to consider the question. I feel like no matter how well I know myself, there will be a problem in need of a solution.

SJ Fowler interviews the poet Ryan Van Winkle.

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How Pragmatism Reconciles Quantum Mechanics With Relativity etc published 24/05/2015


While I think quantum theory helps us to understand all kinds of otherwise puzzling phenomena, it does not do this by saying what’s going on at a deeper level: ontologically speaking, there is no quantum level. Quantum theory is fundamental to contemporary physics, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. But it does not contain fundamental laws, and does not contribute its own fundamental ontology. Since quantum mechanics is in these ways parasitic on other descriptive or representational frameworks it cannot be expected to provide a basis for the reduction of the macroscopic to the microscopic. Nor, therefore, can anything else within the horizon of contemporary physics.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Richard Healey.

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What’s a hole made of and other enigmas published 16/05/2015


Holes provided many nice examples of entities about which we have rich and a times conflicting intuitions. These include the idea that holes do not exist, that holes are just parts of the holed-object, or that they are properties that we erroneously re-conceptualize as individuals.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Roberto Casati.

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Why The World Does Not Exist But Unicorns Do published 10/05/2015


Commitment to the existence of unicorns is just not as substantive or even outright crazy as it looks if we take it for granted that there really only are those things that the imaginary discipline of physics tells us exists. I am saying “imaginary discipline,” because there is no such thing as the single discipline of physics. “Physics” or “science” still often count among philosophers (particularly among metaphysicians) as empirically grounded forms of metaphysics that get to the bottom of things (the ultimate grounding level). This is neither clearly a consequence of any actual finding of physics to date nor could it be given that we are dealing with metaphysical interpretations of terms such as “particle” or “to consist of” when we claim, for instance, that tables consist of particles and then wonder whether tables even so much as exist. Of course, tables exist and, as far as I know, so do electrons.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Markus Gabriel.

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Darwinian conundrums published 02/05/2015


The questions at stake here concern the origin and nature of the mental, social and ethical lives of human beings. These are exemplary philosophical questions. In order to answer them, we need both science and philosophy, and we need collaboration and dialogue between scientists and philosophers.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jonathan Birch.

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philosophy of science published 25/04/2015


In my own thinking of this matter, I found it useful to think of scientific theories as ‘growing existential statements’ in the sense that in adopting a scientific theory, we are committed to the existence of entities that make our (interpreted) theory true and, in particular, to the existence of unobservable things that cause or explain the observable phenomena, but at the same time we leave open the possibility that the theory might not be uniquely realised or that it might fail to be (fully) realised.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Stathis Psillos.

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Eight questions for Gerald Murnane published 21/04/2015

Gerald Murnane 3:AM interview

“The writing itself is painful, but a worse pain comes from not writing. When I first conceive a work of fiction, I try to put off the writing of it because of the pain involved. But then the pain of knowing that the feelings and the imagery will never be expressed in words – then that pain becomes unbearable. And then I relieve the pain by writing.”

Tristan Foster interviews Gerald Murnane.

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propositions, analysis and context published 19/04/2015


When one looks at the contextually sensitive expressions in natural language, those whose context independent meanings are sufficient by themselves to secure semantic values in context are very much in the minority. Kaplan called such expressions pure indexicals and ‘I’ and ‘yesterday’ may be the only ones (and I worry about ‘yesterday’). Even candidates like ‘here’, ‘now’, and ‘today’ don’t seem to be pure indexicals since e.g. the temporal extent of the semantic value of ‘now’ varies from context to context (‘Let’s leave the party now’ vs. ‘People now watch more content on their computers as opposed to their televisions than they used to’). Similar remarks apply to ‘here’ and ‘today’ (and perhaps ‘yesterday’).

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jeffrey King.

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