As a fund-raising benefit for the Northern Institute for Philosophy at Aberdeen, heavy-duty analytical philosopher Crispin Wright is going to walk 268 miles in 20 days and respond to questions from a list selected by benefactors. I’m not sure how the candidate questions themselves were chosen in the first place. I was expecting to see intricate, bizarre questions about semantics and mathematics and Frege and Dummett and Wittgenstein, but they’re actually very general. Here are a few I liked for a variety of reasons:
- Are you thinking what I am thinking?
- Does god exist? Why/why not?
- What are numbers?
- Cicero said: “There is nothing so absurd that some philosopher has not already said it.” Do you think that there is some absurdity still left to be put forward?
- “There was never yet a philosopher that could endure toothache patiently”. (Shakespeare, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’). Discuss.
- Wittgenstein said: “The real discovery is the one which enables me to stop doing philosophy when I want to. The one that gives philosophy peace, so that it is no longer tormented by questions which bring itself into question.” One of your philosophical enemies has always been quietism; do you think that intellectual torment is a strong motivation for philosophising?
- Do you think that getting something from nothing is a key guiding principle for your philosophy?
- What is the most philosophical sport?
The question for me was which philosophers I’d be most curious to hear answers from. Not necessarily people I agree with, more people who would be likely to have interesting or peculiar answers. Wittgenstein is dead, or else he’d be at the top of the list, probably. But I’d like to hear from Michael Thompson, Robert Brandom, Derek Parfit, Jurgen Habermas, Galen Strawson, Karl-Otto Apel, Timothy Williamson, Beatrice Longuenesse, Saul Kripke, and probably a bunch of others whom I can’t think of right now. I don’t think I agree with any position Kripke or Williamson have taken, but I bet they would have some entertaining answers.