Second Part

0:09:07 Have not read Dawkins book but he is not a very good philosopher, and despises philosophy because it is not science and then pontificates; a good example is the whole metaphor of the selfish gene where he suggests we can rebel against our genes which is just nonsense; it is the kind of thing that religious people believe as they think of the soul as an independent locus of agency apart from the mind brain system; if a first year student wrote that in a philosophy of mind paper they would be thrown out of the university; as far as I understand the religious issue the thing that seems to me so awful is that he seems to think it is purely a question of doctrine and belief; he thinks there is a question; Schopenhauer put it beautifully saying that the allegorical and mysterious natures of religions were essential to them, that we are not in the domain of belief but in the domain of practise; the practice includes contradictory elements; many social psychologists think religions have an adaptive function, enabling groups to coordinate better, and to separate insiders from outsiders; some evidence that groups that are cemented together by shared religious practices last much longer compared with groups that have none; its prevalence in countries like the USA where other more traditional forms of social bonding have never had time to form so they need some kind of shared practices; all that side of it as I understand completely escapes Dawkins which means he is not really qualified to think about the issue at all; do have sympathy with religion; if one separated these practises from the issue of cognition, belief, nature of a supernatural reality, then the practises stand or fall as other human practices do; religions, being human constructs sometimes express wonderful things - Chartres or Taj Mahal, sometimes terrible things  - Spanish Inquisition, the way different groups treated each other in Northern Ireland or the Middle East; though a Fellow of Trinity, I never go to the Chapel as I have no religious inclinations, though I would not refuse to go; it would be a little harder as Master as nobody would take my going to Chapel as more than a fairly empty ritual, but if I were Master presiding over it I would take that more as an endorsement which I wouldn't necessarily want to do

7:07:01 Went to Oxford as a Fellow and Tutor in philosophy at Pembroke College from 1969 until 1990; think it compared rather badly with Cambridge in one respect; the faculty here for all its oddities was at least geographically coherent; Oxford has many more philosophers than Cambridge where many colleges have two, and almost all have one, so between fifty and seventy at any one time whereas there are only a dozen in Cambridge; in Oxford there are joint courses - PPE, greats, etc. - whereas at Cambridge you only read philosophy; the emphasis on college teaching meant a lot of the fellows in philosophy were stuck in their college and virtually never saw anybody from any other college because the conditions of a fellowship were fairly heavy on teaching; fortunately I had a group of friends and over time I met some of the great philosophers  of the previous generation, but I think in a way it was professionally isolated; at the same time I had married and had a family so was not isolated in that way; college life in both Oxford and Cambridge can be a snare where college commitments can play havoc with your research; Oxford took some getting used to and I didn't much like the style; found it a smarmy place with a lot of complacent people, a very introverted donnish society; on teaching, I pretty much enjoy any conversation on philosophy, so enjoy supervising bright students; I find lecturing quiet easy; there is an interchange between my teaching and research; sure that if I had suffered the catastrophe of a fellowship at All Souls, something that doesn't require any teaching, I would have simply gone to sleep; teaching and conversation to me is an essential catalyst to philosophical thought; on the other hand teaching can get in the way if you have got an idea and want to work it out; in Oxford I was teaching frequently for fifteen to twenty hours a week; have had a lot of graduate students over the years, but enjoy it less than undergraduate teaching because I am very conscious that it is an investment of time as you get to know them better and are more involved with them, and for longer

15:54:02 In 1990 I left Oxford for the US; in 1984 I published a book called 'Spreading the Word' on the philosophy of language which was well received; I became the Editor of 'Mind' and as a result I was getting a lot of graduate students wanting to work with me; 'Mind' received about three hundred and fifty papers a year of which we published about forty, so a huge refereeing job which I felt I had to do most of myself; it began to take its toll and by the late eighties I felt a combination of things; rather cross that Oxford never considered the work involved with 'Mind' so there was no teaching relief; I think I felt under-appreciated in Oxford; the Thatcher years were putting the humanities under threat and I began to get offers from the US; my wife and I went to look at the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and we chose the latter, partly because its climate was much nicer than Michigan; I spent ten years there; it was an enormous relief as far as work load was concerned, and a very nice atmosphere; it was a faculty and within one building so there was no sense of isolation that there had been in Oxford; I was very happy there and we would probably have stayed as our children went to university there; my wife was pulled back because of her mother's decline and when Cambridge made me an offer we came back here; my wife works as an editor for Oxford University Press having started at Cambridge as a copy editor; at Oxford she worked as a school teacher for a little while before joining the Press; she read English here under the Leavises; she continued working for the Press in the US before setting up her own book production business until it was undercut by the low prices for book production in the Far East

22:19:19 I think the best academic book I have written in the last fifteen years 'Ruling Passions' which is an exploration of human motivation, particularly moral motivation, in the light of game theory, questions of objectivity, truth, knowledge; I became well known for quasi-realism; if ethics were just imperatives - do this and don't do that - then it becomes a mystery why we actually express ourselves in ways which make it look like ethics are much more a question of fact - e.g. its wrong to torture people; one possible response is to say we just deceive ourselves, a popular position in the 1970s; I thought you could have both of these, the practical imperative, but also not an accident that we have the subject-predicate form and talk about truth, fact, knowledge, objectivity etc.; the trick was to keep these two parts together although most writers thought it couldn't be done; I tried to produce some models of language in which it could be done; the basic idea was that we needed a moral predicate - good, bad, that ought or ought not to be done - in order to facilitate discussion; if I give a command you can either do it or not, that is about it; if I say you ought to, then you can or not but also argue about it; in a sense I saw moral propositions not as reflecting the mysterious world of moral fact, that I don't believe it, but as imaginary focuses facilitating discussion, coordination, and the general negotiation of moral positions in social life; this seemed to me a way of having the best of both worlds and that has attracted attention, some favourable and some hostile,  that has kept me busy for quite a long time

27:44:19 Have always enjoyed introducing people to philosophy, wanting to share my own enthusiasm for it; 'Think' was the first introductory book that I wrote and is my favourite; probably it was the best introduction to philosophy since Russell's 'Problems of Philosophy' in 1912; I also wrote the 'Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy' which was quite a task; philosophy is such a personal subject that you can't just rely on anybody to write an article or entry; I did have people to do extensive checking but I did write it all myself; now I am trying to get going a set of thoughts about the pragmatist tradition of philosophy; think that philosophers have been obsessed by our cognitive powers and there is a tendency to think of that just in terms of reception of fact, so the mind as the mirror of nature as Richard Rorty put it; there is the counter-culture of which Rorty was a member which said the mind was for doing other things than reflecting nature; nature does not need a copy but active engagement; that is the dispute between representationalists and pragmatists; rather as with ethics I like to try and find common ground; it is not original to try to have the best of both of those but I am not sure that anyone has done it as I would like to see it done and that is what I would really like to get on with when Cambridge allows me to

32:45:00 On working, a thought never darts into an unprepared mind; in my case that means conversation, teaching, sometimes reading; I do perhaps have a northern bloody-minded streak that when I read or hear something that doesn't quite ring true, that sets me of to try to do better; Rorty's books are quite often the spur; I don't really believe in the philosopher strolling in Trinity gardens and having great thoughts; on the other hand, when you are on the chase and have a chapter that is proving knotty and interesting, then thoughts can pop into your mind; I enjoy writing; just before coming to Cambridge I taught myself to touch-type so I have always been a very fast typist; when the words are coming I can really work very fast; wrote the dissertation for the Churchill fellowship in two weeks, and the actual writing of my PhD took only a little longer; once it is there, getting it down in just enjoyable; I do rewrite, possibly more as I have got older; my writing style was awful when I started my career and I think my wife influenced me to improve; finally, feel very grateful to Dr Vivian for putting me on the life's path that he did because it has been a wonderful career