Normblog Pofile 234: Cosma Shalizi

If you ever wanted to know a little more about Cosma Shalizi, Norman Geras has a profile:

Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you’ve ever changed your mind? > Whether or not we have free will; reading Daniel Dennett’s Elbow Room convinced me that (in every meaningful sense) we do.

What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > The old Enlightenment/liberal thesis that it is neither necessary nor desirable to have a single vision of the good enforced on society. (I wish I could answer ‘individual rationality and morality are delicate social products’ or something like that, but, sadly, no.)

What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That there are any such things as discrete, distinct civilizations, cultures, races, etc., with enduring essences, destinies or interests. There are only ‘real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live’.

Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies permanently shaped how I think about the goals and means of politics and progressive social change; I like to think of myself as a sort of Left Popperian.