Monday, July 06, 2009

AC Grayling

some of the thoughts of AC Grayling, philosopher and mordant wit.

A human lifespan is less than a thousand months long. You need to make some time to think how to live it.

The democracy of blogging and tweeting is absolutely terrific in one way. It is also the most effective producer of rubbish and insult and falsehood we have yet invented.

I am putting together a secular bible. My Genesis is when the apple falls on Newton's head.

I spent the first 13 years of my life in Zambia. In Africa you can't walk in the countryside and think. You might be eaten by a lion. You have to read instead.

My mother was a straight-up-and-down racist of a very marked kind. She used to laugh at the shopping lists the cook would try to copy out. It would never have occurred to her to teach him to read.

I would imagine Jesus was a kind of Jewish reformer. If you were looking for an equivalent to the figure you dimly perceive through the gospels it would probably be a Richard Dawkins.

I'm a vegetarian, but I wear leather shoes. Some people say that's a contradiction; I say I'm doing my best.

I used to be a terrible hypochondriac when I was young and a great reader of medical dictionaries. One day I realised that I was not actually frightened of terminal illness but of not getting done the things I wanted to get done.

I recently retraced on foot a famous journey that William Hazlitt made from Shropshire to Somerset to visit Wordsworth and Coleridge. I spent two weeks slogging through nettle beds before I realised the bastard had taken the coach.

When I was 14 a chaplain at school gave me a reading list. I read everything and I went back to him with a question: how can you really believe in this stuff?

I'm passionately in favour of legalising heroin and cocaine. But I despise people who depend on these things. If you really want a mind-altering experience, look at a tree.

I don't believe in killing animals, but I think President Obama did a justifiable thing in swatting a fly. Flies spread disease.

I have enough faith in statistics to know there must be conscious life on other planets.

Initials can be useful to hide behind. I once heard Jonathan Ross on the radio asking Kirsty Young who she had coming up on Desert Island Discs. When she mentioned "AC Grayling" Ross replied: "Oh, I know her."

Science is the outcome of being prepared to live without certainty and therefore a mark of maturity. It embraces doubt and loose ends.

I'm not sure it is possible to think too much. You don't refresh your mind by partying in Ibiza.

Life is all about relationships. By all means sit cross-legged on top of a mountain occasionally. But don't do it for very long.

Every professor of philosophy needs a nine-year-old daughter. Mine has a habit of saying, "Daddy, that is a very silly idea." She is always right.


Liberty in the Age of Terror, by AC Grayling, is published by Bloomsbury, 12.99


thanks to BRIAN CHAMPNESS, raconteur, author and authority on Bose


rationalist said...

I am concerned about the use of ‘stunted’ to describe Spot (as in: “recently 2nd in rough haired stunted class”; see profile above). Although Spot is an active and intelligent dog, we haven’t heard much about his self esteem which, if wobbly, could be damaged by using the word ‘stunted’ to describe a class to which he belongs. I would like us all to make clear to him that the noun - stunt - from which the adjective ‘stunted’ derives, has two clear meanings (ref. WordNet dictionary):
Meaning 1: a difficult or unusual or dangerous feat; usually done to gain attention.
Meaning 2: a creature that has been prevented from attaining full growth.
May we all agree that in Spot’s case we are referring to an adjective derived from the first of the conventional meanings of the noun? In fact “a difficult or unusual or dangerous feat; usually done to gain attention” seems to describe our canine blogger immaculately. I hope that has cleared up any doubts, Spot.

Spot said...

Lurchers come in three sizes, small, medium and large. When I started writing this blog I was quite small, now I am more medium. It is also true that I have had the operation. So perhaps I am stunted in the ordinary sense of less than fully grown, but I am large of spirit, and full of life and generally an all round good egg. I have found my true vocation now which is madly rushing up to passing rationalists and barking as loudly as possible by way of saying hello.
By the way welcome to the camp.

brianchamps said...

What a relief, Spot, so your self esteem is well within normal bounds - congratulations. In that case I shall in future feel free to be gently negative about the vigour with which you rush up to rationalists and bark. Regards.