Monday, July 06, 2020

A Broad Ranging Interview at Scientific American

John Horgan and I discuss doubt and wonder, philosophical fiction, jerkitude, the moral mediocrity of ethicists, and the nature and value of the nerd, among other things.

Horgan: Why philosophy? Any regrets?

Schwitzgebel: No regrets yet!

Here’s why I love philosophy: For all X, you can do philosophy of X, just by diving down deep and long into the most fundamental questions about that topic. That’s what I enjoy, and I’ll do it for any topic that catches my attention—whether it’s the nature of jerkitude, garden snail cognition, robot rights or the moral behavior of ethics professors. What could be more fun?

Horgan: Why do you write fiction? Doesn't that mean philosophy isn't really that fulfilling for you?

Schwitzgebel: Wait, writing fiction can’t be a way of doing philosophy? Sartre, Rousseau, Zhuangzi, Voltaire, Nietzsche and Borges might disagree! Is anyone currently doing better work on the ethics of technology than the TV series Black Mirror?

For instance, weirdly implemented group minds feature both in my science fiction stories and in my expository philosophy. Under what conditions could there be real thought and consciousness at a group level?

[continued here]


Arnold said...

My try at challenging certitude..., here-on, here-now...
Together seem equable equanimity's...

metaphor messiah said...

The notion of Jerkitude beckons to me ... I will procure a copy of this book and get to know your thinking on this ... your SA interview made an impression with me, thank you for the introduction Eric ... my best on future days, Matt Hill

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks, MM! :-)