Scroll down to skip the intro; it really isn’t that important (assuming that anything is).
Over the last few years, I have taken a bunch of philosophy courses. Taking courses means writing papers. I’ve written over 20 by now – some in Swedish, mostly in English – and it looks like I might be writing more in the years to come. Philosophy is fun, even if writing papers sometimes isn’t.
Besides the fun factor, philosophy has other benefits (no kidding, huh). For instance, doing philosophy in a systematic fashion is a great way to disabuse yourself of whatever silly hope you might (still) have to ever think an original thought about anything. Nope, I can’t, and I won’t.
Another thing I’ve learned I can’t do is write like a professional (analytic) philosopher, hell-bent on rigour. You can’t make an old dog unlearn its favourite tricks. By which I mean that I can only write as an author.
Now, regardless of how much I suck or rule as an author, writing like one means that you care about the writing itself more than about anything else – in this case, including philosophy. Time and again I have caught myself wasting ridiculous chunks of my life on a pretty paragraph or a catchy smart-arse turn of phrase in a paper that’s only ever going to be read by one very busy, usually overworked person (don’t ask me how I know) who might not even have the time to read the whole thing through.
In other words, I have to face the embarrassing fact that I can’t really write unless I make believe that I’m writing for an audience, however unlikely or small, or uninterested in my literary pretentions. But if that’s how it is, I might as well bite the bullet and post some of this stuff here.
Here are links to several papers I’ve written at Uppsala University. The main criterion for selecting them is very straightforward: they feel like complete texts. Well, at least to me they do. Plus (need I say this) I had at least some fun writing them.
The Big Question is whether fiction can help us learn anything about the real world that we didn’t already know.
The Big Question is whether there are truths about the world that are forever beyond our cognitive grasp.
The Big Question is what we should do when someone intelligent disagrees with us.
The Big Question is whether Parfit’s thought experiments do show that personal identity is not what matters in survival.
The Big Question is whether insincerity always means lying.
The admittedly Not-So-Big Question is how, according to Plato, knowledge can unify the soul.
The Big Question is whether we need to have first-person thoughts in order to act, and what it means to have a ‘first-person thought’ in the first place.