Category Archives: philosophy

Questioning academics


A table at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre coffee shop. No, I don’t know what it means either. 

The latest episode of Brain Train is up – the podcast I work on where we get academics to quiz other academics – this time with autism researcher Johanna Finneman interviewing philosopher Nina Power. I think my favourite bit is where Power stands up for the right of philosophers to be “a little bit annoying”. As much as I am a philosopher (and I’d say I’m roughly 15% philosopher, albeit a self-hating one most of the time) I very much ascribe to that.

The format’s designed so each episode an academic interviews another about their work, then in the next episode the interviewee becomes the interviewer (and the expert becomes the novice) and so on. At the end of each episode we also ask the interviewee (the expert) what questions they have for their own field. These are Power’s, for philosophy, but I think they could be directed to about any group of the academy.

A political question [first]: how do we get philosophers at Russell Group Universities to defend those philosophy departments at non-Russell Group universities that are being closed? I’d like to see solidarity across my subject, because it’s my feeling that if you love and care about the subject, you would want to see more of it, everywhere, not less of it. And not trying to sort of keep it to yourself  and you know, get all the research money which they get already and you sit by while philosophy departments left right and centre get closed. So that’s a political question […]

I guess the question you’re [Johanna started with] asking me: How do we get philosophy out there? How do we critically but clearly state what we think is important about philosophy? […] How do we make the link between the critical questions that people have all the time to the older and ongoing philosophical questions in a non-patronising way, in a way that doesn’t kind of, I don’t know, but nor does it reduce to a self-help model of philosophy, this kind of popular philosophy that is, I think, anti-philosophical in lots of ways.