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

The Big Forgetting published 05/08/2013


Not so long ago, I asked a Beijing friend of mine if she thought his portrait might one day be taken down from Tienanmen Square. She smiled wryly and told me that it would be utterly unthinkable. Imagine if Hitler’s portrait still stared down at you from the Brandenburg Gate — that too is unthinkable. It would defy all moral sensibilities and common sense; yet Mao, the demigod, watches over his people, above the gates of the fallen “Emperor’s” Forbidden City. If you wouldn’t know better you’d think there was some kind of a sick inside joke going on.

Tom Bradley interviews Marc Vincenz about Mao’s Mole.

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philosophy from the preposterous universe published 03/08/2013

In the contemporary intellectual climate, especially in the U.S., there has been a great deal of argumentation between atheists/naturalists on one hand and religious believers on the other. Which is fine as far as it goes, but within the set of folks who are already comfortable with naturalism, it doesn’t really help answer all of the crucially important questions that the naturalist position bequeaths to us. (Free will, emergence, meaning, morality, you can easily think of them yourself.) And we disagree in serious/interesting way about the answers to these questions!

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Sean Carroll.

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Mature: heidegger and merleau-ponty published 26/07/2013

Although Descartes has been the “go to” philosophical bad guy for the past century, much contemporary philosophy of mind is in many ways still held captive by a Cartesian picture of the human being. Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology is a radical repudiation of that picture, so his work remains outside the orbit of mainstream analytical philosophy. He has nothing to add, for example, to tedious debates about the metaphysics of consciousness. I consider Merleau-Ponty’s silence on that question a sign of his philosophical maturity.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Taylor Carman.

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the mad dog naturalist published 19/07/2013

In arguing that science has to reject almost everything common sense tells us about reality and our place in it, I am going against a Naturalistic tradition whose leading figure is the sainted Daniel Dennett. Dan has done more than any one to advance the naturalistic program of giving answers to the persistent questions that reconcile common sense—the manifest image, in Wilfred Sellers’ words—with science. But a lot of other philosophers have helped to try to advance this agenda. I honor them all, but I deem their program a failure by the standards that they set themselves.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Alex Rosenberg.

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the poststructural anarchist published 12/07/2013

For the anarchists there is no single struggle. As the British anarchist Colin Ward once said, there are always a series of struggles along a variety of fronts. This is where the poststructuralists, and especially Foucault, intersect with anarchism. Foucault traces historically different ways in which people become dominated. He does not reduce them to a single site or single type, but seeks to understand them in their specificity.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Todd May.

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on the foundations of physics published 05/07/2013

I don’t think that the spats between physicists and philosophers are more heated, or of a different kind, then the spats that break out among philosophers or among physicists; they just get more public attention. Disputes in foundations of physics typically cannot be settled by observation or experiment, so argumentation has to come to the fore.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tim Maudlin.

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memory palace published 03/07/2013


At the moment we seem to be in a place with narrative fiction where there are people quite happy to write very straight-up nineteenth century realist stuff, and people who want to play Derridean language games exploring textuality. I would like to say that there is a third interesting thing that fiction writers can do, which is to take on, in a speculative realist way, scientific ideas about the self and to engage with social complexity: how memory constitutes itself. So for all these reasons thinking about the self is important to me.

Seth Wheeler interviews Hari Kunzru.

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on the reality of sherlock holmes etc published 28/06/2013

I think we should be suspicious of any philosopher who claims to have discovered that common sense is radically mistaken. (Things are quite different if there is empirical evidence against some common sense belief.) We can draw a distinction between adhering to common sense beliefs (or folk theories) and employing common sense concepts. I think we have to make use of the common sense concepts we have—unless we are explicitly and clearly engaged in suggesting new or revised concepts.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Amie L. Thomasson.

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philosophy and physics published 24/06/2013

A “radical ontic structural realist” claims that structures exist independently of objects. According to this latter creature, structure is supposed to be something; it’s just a different sort of something than objects. So two universes devoid of objects could still contain differing structures and thus be different.

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

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books forged in hell etc published 17/06/2013

Philosophy is, by its nature, a dialogue, an engagement with others over certain kinds of problems, ideas, and arguments. Sometimes the dialogue takes place in person; more often, it happens through our writing and our teaching, as we critically consider what others have said on this or that topic. Everyone who does philosophy is engaged in this kind of dialogue. It’s just that the philosophers whom those of us who do history of early modern philosophy are in dialogue with happen to be long dead.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Steven Nadler.

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