Aljoša Kravanja & Prof. Dr. Jan Slaby: Kant is a versatile weapon

The fifth conversation in the Scientific Cognition series features Aljoša Kravanja, a philosopher, translator and senior PhD candidate at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Prof. Dr. Jan Slaby, a professor for philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy at the Free University of Berlin, Germany.

Aljoša Kravanja is about to complete his doctoral studies on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, one of the central figures in the German philosophy of 18th century. Prior to that, he worked as a young researcher at the Institute for Criminology, Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, where he collaborated on the research project The Law and the Brain. As a translator, he mostly translates French authors to Slovene; he translated Gilles Deleuze’s Nietzsche and Philosophy and Michel Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics.

Prof. Dr. Jan Slaby’s research area is the so-called political philosophy of mind, which means that he critically evaluates the political, social, philosophical and scentific aspects of the mind and the sciences of the mind. He is most active in the domain of critical neuroscience, philosophy of emotions and cognitive science. His wide interests are reflected in a vast bibliography of scientific articles in numerous journals with a number of established co-authors.


Both speakers share a common ground in philosophy and critique. In his PhD thesis, Aljoša Kravanja discussed the Critique of Judgement, one of the Kant’s three major Critiques, where the critical approach presents the main method of the work. He provided an in-depth analysis of two paragraphs, which have stirred philosophers for centuries. His work on Kant follows a strong Slovenian tradition in exploring the heritage of the classical German philosopher. Jan Slaby, on the other hand, adopts a critical approach to inquiry into concepts, which are featured in contemporary presentations of neuroscience, for example affect, resilience and emotions. He is interested in how these concepts are used not just in science, but also what are the political and social implications of their use.

Our guests discuss how they came to their research areas. Kant wrote his works way before neuroscience was developed. But why and how can we talk with/about Kant when we talk about neuroscience? What sense is there in reading Kant today, and what may a local shopkeeper get from Kant? Philosophers need to form new ideas in their research, but how do they come to these ideas? What guides their inspiration? Does the general public really despise intelectuals and should intelectuals hide their status to share their insights more efficiently? After all, who has the right to call out the naked emperor? At the very end of the discussion, our guests addressed the topic of individual and collective research in philosophy. Why one of them believes that philosophy may only be written individually, while the other thinks co-autorship has many advantages?


Jan Slaby: My name is Jan Slaby. I am a professor of philosophy at the Free University in Berlin specializing in philosophy of mind. My interests lie mainly in the intersection of the social and the mental, what I at times call “a political philosophy of mind”. In this perspective you ask how specific living conditions, institutions, technology, social practices, media intersect with our individual mentality, our subjectivity, and how subjectivity is formed. It is really a perspective that wants to understand the human subject in its time, in its specific social settings.

Jan Slaby: My work has a specific relation to cognitive science and the sciences of the mind. However, it is probably not a relation of wholehearted endorsement, but rather more of a skeptical and critical position with a certain distance to these fields.

Here philosophy intersects with a lot of other disciplines like social science, cultural studies, anthropology and so on. It is also an interesting perspective, I hope, that sheds light on the way certain sciences, fields in the cognitive sciences, are relevant to how the mind actually works. If I am not mistaken, Aljoša, you are also a philosopher and you share interests in similar topics. Maybe we can agree quite early on that our work has a specific relation to cognitive science and the sciences of the mind. However, it is probably not a relation of wholehearted endorsement, but rather more of a skeptical and critical position with a certain distance to these fields, while we are still in a way interested and fascinated by them.

Maybe that’s the first question to you also, after you introduce yourself, what is your specific relationship to cognitive science and neuroscience. I can also speak about my position on this issues. But I don’t want to speak too long at the beginning because I’m eager to learn what your perspective is.

Aljoša Kravanja: My name is Aljoša Kravanja and I’m currently a researcher in criminology and philosophy while I also work as a translator, mostly from French. Currently, I’ve been mostly working on my PhD thesis which has been submitted just a few months ago, where I focus on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.

Aljoša Kravanja: Kantian philosophy and German idealism do bear a special relationship to neuroscience, because at the first glance, they’re dealing with a common topic: subjectivity. However, they treat the topic from two different viewpoints.

I believe that Kantian philosophy and German idealism do bear a special relationship to neuroscience, because at the first glance, they’re dealing with a common topic: subjectivity. However, they treat the topic from two opposite or different viewpoints. Therefore, I am in a sense professionally inclined to be critical towards neuroscience and cognitive science, absolutely. And I think I’ll try to overcome it somehow by thinking about it, not only in critical terms.

Jan Slaby: On Kant? That’s a whole universe.

Aljoša Kravanja: Indeed.

Jan Slaby:  Was it on the Critique of Pure Reason, was it on the theoretical philosophy, or something else?

Aljoša Kravanja: My thesis dealt with the Critique of Judgment. The main reason is that I actually tried to sidestep the main theoretical issues of Kantian philosophy. The Critique of Pure Reason is, in my opinion, justifiably read as the main critique of the three Critiques. That would be the main reason why I wrote my thesis on the Critique of Judgement.

There are actually two paragraphs or short segments in the Critique of Judgement that have been widely read by people such as Schelling or Hegel, these are paragraphs 76 and 77, and basically in my thesis is I give an in depth analysis of these two paragraphs, essentially.

Jan Slaby: Well, that’s far removed from much of what you get in neuroscience, for sure. It always strikes me on what a high conceptual level Kant was actually working. And as philosophers we can grapple all our lives with just 50 pages of his work, or with just the concepts of understanding and judgment. For example, Kant’s theory of judgment is amazing from today’s perspective and at the same time so little understood in many quarters of philosophy. By consequence, going from there to all the big claims about the brain and about how neuroscience can now reveal how decision-making works or how we arrive at our perceptual judgments can be quite difficult.

This is also in part what pushed me to take a critical perspective on neuroscience. That is, some of this discrepancy in terms of the level of understanding that is actually reached on the one side and then the exaggerated appearance of neuroscientists in today’s climate where science has a certain high standing in society, regardless of whether people understand what the science is actually about, or how it actually works. What does it mean to have a study in neuroscience that actually has some results and that actually tells us anything about mental phenomena?

All these complicated neuroscientific processes are really hardly understood but still there’s some sort of default credibility lent to all of the narratives or results or whatever comes out of neuroscience. This can make it quite difficult to position yourself as a philosopher outside of the narrow Kantian or Hegelian circles.

Has it been an issue for you during your studies or during interaction at the university that you live in a time where neurocognitive sciences seem so prominent culturally? Or was it not a problem?

ON CULTURAL PROMINENCE OF NEUROSCIENCE

Aljoša Kravanja: I think this a broader issue, which is not only limited to my situation, that the scientific and mostly philosophical projects that get funded through national funding bodies usually have to be concerned with neuroscience. Or they have to be termed in the framework of neuroscience. For instance, you are more likely to get state funding if you frame a project in criminology in neuroscientific terms than in conventional terms of criminology.

And the same probably goes for philosophy. It’s harder to get a state funded project that deals only with Kant or with German idealism. You have to add something like a neuroscientific part. The problem is that this is usually just an artificial add-on for something. It really doesn’t concern the theory you are discussing. Therefore I believe that, indeed, neuroscience, not as a science, but rather the standings it has in society, is problematic in this view.

Jan Slaby: That was part of what a few collaborators and I thought a few years ago; that we can take neuroscience as an angle or as a topic to investigate the current situation what it means to be human today or what it means to study and do research on the human.

Aljoša Kravanja: You are more likely to get state funding if you frame a project in criminology in neuroscientific terms than in conventional terms of criminology.

So you could kind of turn the tables on your signs a little bit and take it as a test case of how certain types of knowledge are produced in this specific setting. Take for instance, those studies which are set up because they will generate public impact. Like the work on the adolescent brain or the work on the criminal brain. You can be certain that there will be some sort of uptake and you will get the funding for it. Similar for the work on the alleged non-existence of free-will or the evolutionary pre-programmed brain etc.

These are all instances of shared nice narratives there the public can understand. But when you try to investigate neuroscience and such, you see how knowledge production in the neoliberal times actually works. I don’t mean to put the blame on anyone specifically, but you can really see how professional scientists are forced to channel their topics and also the whole outlook of their research groups through these discourses.

There are various examples, like the work on social cognition and empathy, which is a big industry. To be sure, there is really interesting work to be done here, also in social psychology, but it always has to be molded according to a certain template to make it timely and understandable. I think a lot of neuroscientists try to do good work, of course, but they have to play by these rules and frame their topics in specific ways.

Jan Slaby: There is a certain background discourse in neuroscience about the resources, the potentials an individual has, which can be cultivated in order to have them marketable and ready for use.

At the same time you see these discourses on subjectivity, on how the mankind is understood in our times, government, education, child-rearing, delinquent behaviour, policies etc. And in some sense you can always see, in almost a Hegelian sense, how neuroscience encapsulates the essence of our time in these entanglements with different practices. This was our attempt to turn the tables and take critical neuroscience as a way to do philosophy of our time. It is a mix of philosophy of science and critique of science with a more sociologically diagnostic approach to the present. As a philosopher I think that’s one way to preserve your sanity in and of these developments.

Aljoša Kravanja: So you think that neuroscience is naturally compatible with neoliberalism?

Jan Slaby: I think it is a poster child of neoliberalism on various levels in some respects. For example, the way it has taken up certain discourses. For instance, you can talk about networks, brain networks and network subjectivities — you could speak about the theory of human capital. There is a certain background discourse in neuroscience about the resources, the potentials that an individual has, which can be cultivated in order to have it marketable and ready for use. This discourse was adopted by neuroscience. Another example is the discussion of neuroplasticity. The message is: “Well, your brain is not hardwired, but you can make it better if you cultivate it.”

Aljoša Kravanja: And it’s flexible.

Jan Slaby: And it’s flexible, it makes you apt to be a network individual in the workplace and so on. And I wouldn’t say we are talking about a straightforward adoption, but it’s in a way a tested osmosis of discursive elements.

ON MOTIVATION

Aljoša Kravanja: I think that coincidences played much role in my interest in Immanuel Kant. The fact is that Kantian and Hegellian schools of thought are relatively strongly represented in Ljubljana. I am thinking of scholars such as Slavoj Žižek, Mladen Dolar, Alenka Zupančič, Rado Riha and Zdravko Kobe, who are well-known not only in Slovenia, but also abroad.

Aljoša Kravanja: The reason why I write my articles is because I just want to figure things out. I like to see how concepts interact and then present these conceptual interactions in a way that is enjoyable to other people.

In Slovenia, or at the Faculty of Arts where I studied, it is in some sense natural that if you want to do philosophy seriously, then you study Kant or Hegel. It’s a kind of a convention. And the reason why I chose the Critique of Judgment as my dissertation topic is the one I mentioned earlier: because I wanted to sidestep the main theoretical issues and deal with the more marginal problems of Kantian philosophy.

More generally, the reason why I write my articles is because I just want to figure things out. I like to see how concepts interact and then perhaps present these conceptual interactions in a way that is enjoyable to other people. That would be my main motivation to do scientific work.

Jan Slaby: These are great answers to the very difficult question for a philosopher, “What is the motivation?” At the most general level, you want to understand the world for the sake of humanity or you want to understand what it means to be human. This is a very deep motivation that probably makes you a philosopher.

But then of course you are a child of your times and we already spoke about neuroscience and the kind of urge to respond to developments that we find problematic which leads to a critical impulse. For me, a part of the motivation has always been to square these two motivating factors together.

One thing is the legacy of philosophy, with authors going back up to 2,500 years, which still speaks to us and tells something about the human nature and what it means to be human, but at the same time we know that we live in a time where things are radically different than anytime before in history. These are also politically very dangerous times probably and philosophy has, I think, the urge to respond to what’s going on out there in the world of politics and in history. And it is very difficult to bring these aspects together.

On the other hand it’s obvious that when you read Kant, for instance, or Aristotle, that they speak directly not only to the perennial dimension of what it means to be a rational being, but they also directly address our political nature, an ethos and rationality in each of us. And sometimes, although we tend to be kind of pragmatic about our decisions and we have to navigate complex institutional landscape, philosophers share the fascination with squaring the human nature or the nature of being a rational being on the one hand with the concrete historical time in which live.

ON SOCIETAL ENGAGMENT AND THEORY

Jan Slaby: The ways in which our research is responding to the current situation, politically, historically or whether we are just immersed in academic affairs. And I think all off our answers point in this direction that these things go together. But it’s always uneasy. It’s always an uneasy interaction between the vagaries of the day and what philosophy is about conceptually.

How do you, Aljoša, respond to this challenge of being up to your time and at the same time standing in this perennial conversation of philosophy?

Aljoša Kravanja: There are two ways in which philosophy can address the problems of its time. One way is to see what is actual, what exists today, as a particular case of some already known general philosophical notions. The other way which is, I think, fundamentally different is that philosophy can understand its own actuality or contemporary existence and society as something new which has to be rethought in a radically new way. I believe that philosophers are naturally inclined to see, to actually think in the first way, that is, they consider what is actual merely as a particular case for general philosophical notions.

Jan Slaby: It’s always an uneasy interaction between the vagaries of the day and what philosophy is about conceptually.

For example, you read the news on Trump’s victory or Brexit and you think: “A-ha, look. Here’s a return of the notion of sovereignty,” or something like that. Alternatively, you can sidestep this inclination and try to think of things as something radically new. The second way is perhaps more difficult, but philosophers such as Michel Foucault or Hannah Arendt tried explicitly going this way. I think we should follow their example.

Jan Slaby: Perhaps there is some middle way as in when you see how the philosophical ethos is affected by the current climate. It need not necessarily be affected on the level of contents, concepts, questions you ask, but rather on the way that you position yourself and the choice of issues you deem urgent.

For instance, I was trained in analytical philosophy in the 1990’s. Back then people were happy to discuss very tiny conceptual issues that were of no relevance whatsoever, one could claim, to general human affairs. At least in the West, there were times when people were well-off and the big problems seemed to be settled; in some sense uninteresting times when people had time to consume or do intricate little things for their passions.

Now this has changed a little bit, I think. Today, as I see it in my students, they are very eager to address topics of political relevance, be it in terms of race or the rise of populism. I work a lot on emotion and affect and for a long time emotion theory was a somewhat boring topic in philosophy. It was about mediaamplified political affect, hatred, climate of fear.

Speaking of affect, have you ever thought about affect or emotion in your philosophy or is that something that you have never thought about?

Aljoša Kravanja: A few years ago, I wrote an article about Dostoievsky and the notion of suffering, where I dealt mostly with affectivity. In this perspective, I found extremely interesting the philosophy of Michel Henry. However, what I noticed this year while analyzing the Critique of Judgement is how Kantian take on affectivity in the Critique of Judgement is actually now always secondary. The first is the layer of judgment and then only Kantian analysis gets to the analysis of affectivity only at the secondary layer. I found that quite interesting and this is perhaps the general problem with Kantian school of thought.

Jan Slaby: Yeah, we should not go there, otherwise we would use all our time speaking about Kant’s theory of judgment.

ON CREATIVITY

Jan Slaby: I think creativity happens, at least for me, when responding to issues that concern my wider circle of influence. It’s about what happens in conversations, what happens with people who attend seminars and workshops. That would be the input but of course it is always a difficult question for philosophers what the sources of your creativity are.

Aljoša Kravanja:  When I start writing about a new idea, I usually find out that that idea is actually crappy or false or just another stereotype. What I then actually write about is precisely the reason why it is crappy.

I’m almost a little embarrassed by this question apart from, you know, all these sort of trivialities about, “Oh well, yeah, it’s conversing with people and, well, sometimes we are kind of reading a big philosopher and we get inspired.” But I don’t really know where, the little creativity I have, actually comes from, so maybe you have a better answer?

Aljoša Kravanja: I noticed a general pattern, at least in my writing, that my most general creative process begins usually with discovering an interesting idea. An idea that at least at first sight seems interesting to me. After that, when I start writing about it, then I usually find out that that idea is actually crappy or false or a new stereotype. What I then actually write about is precisely the reason why that first idea is crappy. That is the most general workflow, at least for my work, that perhaps others might recognise as well.

Jan Slaby: That sounds plausible. We kind of litter our way with mistakes and errors and wrong turns, and, yeah. Maybe that’s really different in philosophy than in other fields but I am not sure.

ON SCIENCE COMMUNICATION

Jan Slaby: The public. That’s our topic, I guess. We can give another mixed and balanced answer. On the one hand, the lucky ones among us are receive public funding for our jobs. Therefore, the public has some sort of right to see what we’re up to. In the same spirit, our interventions, particularly when they are critical and political, should have an impact.

I have no trouble explaining people why I critique neuroscience — because I think the real waste of money happens here, when you have a research program funded in billions and billions. Think of the Human Brain project of the EU. It’s a billion euros or so for the next 10 years. I think it’s very important to make people understand that there is a lot of issues in science. It is equally important to explain the people that risk-taking in science is normal, however, science also takes wrong turns.

Jan Slaby: Our critical interventions should have an impact. I have no trouble explaining to people why I critique neuroscience — because I think it is here where the real waste of money happens when you have a research program funded in billions and billions.

Furthermore, there are institutional and political dimensions of science and you need to have an assessment of that. At some point you must be able to point out when the funding is misdirected and when we should be cautious about the results etc. This is a straightforward case where I think the public can follow what we do, even the lay people.

In other parts of philosophy it is more difficult. Communicating with the public while we inquire into the nature of agency or subjectivity and similar very detached theoretical terms. There are lots of mediating steps in between Kantian issues and the point at which the public can get involved in these issues.

Perhaps a good example would be The Contest of the Faculties when Kant defends the importance of freedom for the unfolding of rationality in a public sphere. Maybe that’s the point where it would be possible to say: “Every member of the public should be interested in it because without these discussions there wasn’t any sort of public anymore.” What is your take on that? Kant is a versatile weapon.

Aljoša Kravanja: I agree that as a philosopher that received public funding, I do have some obligation to present my findings in a way that is not accessible only to professionals. The main output or perhaps the only output of philosophy is words. The output of natural sciences or technical sciences are results. Results in the form of concrete objects. But philosophy in the last instance produces words. In my opinion it is very difficult, if not impossible, to justify publicly funded work in philosophy which is accessible to professionals only. And this can be most obvious when studying Kant.

Aljoša Kravanja: As a philosopher that received public funding, I do have some obligation to present my findings in a way that is not accessible only to professionals.

On the other hand, Kant himself in The Contest of Faculties stated that the Faculty of Arts and philosophy in particular has an inherent relation to the public as such which makes them indispensible. But if a philosopher said or proposed such a claim publicly that the public itself is in a way dependent on philosophers; it would be an outrageous claim in the last instance. And the philosopher, he or she, should not expect that the public will receive this claim with ease.

Jan Slaby: That’s right. We could talk all night about Kant, I imagine. Kant’s deduction of categories, the transcendental deduction is probably one of the most complicated pieces of philosophy ever written. It is one thing to say that people need to be experts on this sort of issues, but you cannot expect from them to really relate this sort of contents to some practical knowledge, for example what a shopkeeper around the corner needs to know.

On the other hand, it’s about human understanding, the human subjectivity, so the very core of what we are. Therefore, it is not surprising that it’s a riddle and a very difficult one. We have to find a way to convey to the public what is the game that Kant is playing, while we shouldn’t probably play it in a way that everybody can follow, because that is probably impossible. We could explain what the stakes in this sort of philosophy are.

It also matters how we think about ourselves as self-determined, potentially irrational, free individuals. Or what would it mean to not think of ourselves in these terms, but kind of to deny freedom, to deny autonomy, to deny the possibility of self-determination, what would that mean? Maybe Kant is a good topic to settle on here because it carries this understanding what it means to be a rational being, even though it’s hard.

Aljoša Kravanja: Absolutely. Kant is interesting here also because he himself was not only a professional philosopher but also an author of popular essays about everything from human races to politics and reading habits. I think Kant himself is in a way an example of how a philosopher even today may present his philosophical findings in an accessible way.

Jan Slaby: Right. That is why I would understand my own project also as a Kantian project in a certain sense of critique. Kant’s concept of critique is very complex, of course, but there’s also the straightforward sense of critique, namely that there’s so much bullshit around us. If you have a personal understanding at some point, you have probably an obligation to tell the people what is bullshit out there. That’s some of what we have tried to do with certain concepts like empathy, resilience, neuroplasticity etc. To show that certain concepts are exported from science to the public domain, which are either incoherent or problematic or politically one-sided etc.

Aljoša Kravanja: Nowadays, with communication being accessible to everyone, professionals do not have a privileged voice in discussions anymore. Today the task of critique is difficult.

In terms of the concept of resilience, which is, that embodies a whole worldview of, about subjects that struggle for self-preservation and try to get ready for catastrophe. And there’s a whole outlook in which the world seems to be on the verge of catastrophe and so on. On the other hand, the term is promoted by certain agencies that kind of want a specific type of subject. I think this is a straightforward sense of critique of enlightening people about what’s actually in this concept and why it is probably not such a good idea to promote it in that in that way. And I think that’s still in a broader sense a Kantian endeavor.

Aljoša Kravanja: Additional problem is that the public will, especially today, always ask you back: “Who are you to tell us what is bullshit?” I think that there is a general resentment towards professionals that try to determine what is bulshit and what is not bullshit.

For instance, let’s take the term “fake news” that has recently come to the front. This term is in itself slightly patronising towards the public and the public quickly recognized that. I think that especially nowadays the task of public critique performed by philosophers or intellectuals in general is, how to put it, at risk. Or perhaps less effective than it was in the 80’s or 90’s. And I think that that has something to do with the internet. Nowadays, with communication being accessible to everyone, professionals do not have the privileged voice in discussions anymore. Today the task of critique is difficult.

Jan Slaby: Yeah, it’s hard.  I wonder what do you think is a right response to that situation? Would you say that philosophers just have to go on doing what they do because they know that they are doing the right thing?

Jan Slaby: Engage in all sorts of informal communication channels, but then make sure that you are doing what you always did. Be a critical voice. Be a voice of reason, be consistent and do not fake it in order to be better perceived.

Or would you say that because the parameters, the whole outlook of the public sphere has changed because of the internet, that we have to change our ways, our practices, the way we address the public, the modes of communication, habits of publication and so on? What would you think? I’m very curious about that.

Aljoša Kravanja: That is a hard question. The most general strategy should be that public intellectuals should not present themselves as professionals, but rather as members of the public. The main reason, I think, that professional speech today produces so much resentment is because intellectuals present themselves as professionals. This naturally produces the reaction of resentment. Intellectuals should avoid presenting themselves as intellectuals.

Jan Slaby: I see where you’re going, but it’s a slippery slope. You cannot completely hide your education, your status, your standing and so on. I think what part of the point might be to use all sorts of venues for communication. Not only the official interview or the newspaper article and all these big stages where professors usually speak from, but rather engage in all sorts of informal communication channels, but then make sure that you are doing what you always did. Namely, be a critical voice. Be a voice of reason, be consistent and do not fake it a little bit in order to be better perceived.

ON INDIVIDUAL vs. COLLECTIVE RESEARCH

Jan Slaby: For me the best way to work collectively was usually a partnership with one other person. For example, two people writing a paper. Or two people, maybe three, but mostly two people that have some overlap in their intuitions or in their intentions and then find a common ground. But you cannot do it all the time, because at some point you have to move on to do something on your own or find someone else for a different interest.

Jan Slaby: You need a lot of conversation to find the common ground with collaborators — but when you do it can be great fun.

So I have a rather big network of co-authors. Sometimes I see them only for one week in a year. We do a little thing and then do something together, and afterwards I don’t see the person for another year and so on. But that’s great because at some point there are certain ideas that resonate with certain people, although you don’t have much in common with these people. I always look for these sort of alliances. It’s not the same as in scientific research groups where people are hired in the same lab and interact every day, and that’s more difficult probably. I wouldn’t know.

Aljoša Kravanja: I agree that writing philosophical papers in co-authorship is actually relatively difficult, because the main principle that a philosopher has to follow is consistency. You can’t be consistent with someone else. You can only be consistent with yourself. From this perspective, writing philosophy in co-authorship is quite demanding because philosophy doesn’t have an external object that various authors can agree on. Rather, it produces text and that text has to have its own internal consistency. I actually can’t imagine how I would write philosophy with someone else.

Aljoša Kravanja: A philosopher has to be consistent. You can’t be consistent with someone else. You can only be consistent with yourself.

Jan Slaby: Interesting. Two things about that. It’s always easier when you do it in terms of more sociological or legal writings. In neuroscience, we had a lot of texts that could be categorized perhaps as science and technology studies in the broader sense. This was a little easier because you could somehow divide the text into sections and if the sections were a little different, nobody really cared.

In philosophy you really have to look for a person who shares an intuition about a topic. There are people that I know quite well and I know we disagree on a lot of things but here there’s a point in Aristotle where we agree on a certain concept and we just write a paper on that concept and it’s still difficult. But then we meet on a certain common ground — and you need a lot of conversation to find the common ground — but then it can be great fun.

Finally, I’m a lazy person. I like it when someone else writes my papers and I can send them half of the paper and then, yeah. Philosophy can have a characteristic motivation problem when you’re on your own all the time. It can be really tiring. And because writing is also, it’s a hard process, I guess, for most people, and if there’s someone else who can kind of pick up the slack from time to time it’s great.

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