On the Weightlessness of Reality


Richard Marshall interviews Gary Kemp in 3:AM Magazine:

Gary Kemp finds Quine and Davidson awesome and has edgy thoughts about them all the time. He thinks Frege is more Newton than Einstein and refines him. Aesthetics isn’t his primary thing but he’s always interested. He keeps reading Proust and doesn’t think Beckettis a window-dresser. He thinks Quine thinks there’s no issue about realism – which is neither a realist nor an anti-realist position. He is thus sensationally groovacious.

3:AM: What made you become a philosopher? Has it been rewarding so far?

Gary Kemp: I think like many people I became what I am before I had any real sense of choosing. At university – the University of Oregon – I was fleeing from my dad (he was an eminent astrophysicist), playing the guitar and being interested in English literature, when I had my first philosophy class, and was hooked. Or second, the first was as a freshman and I had no sense of anything at first (if ever). I don’t know if it’s been rewarding; what would I compare it with? I do feel very fortunate to have a job as an academic philosopher.

3:AM: You’ve written about Frege and his conception of truth. Before we go into details of what you argue, could you say a little about Frege for us here at 3:AM to give us the context? Frege is a hugely important figure but isn’t as well known as, say, Einstein in science, but what he achieved was arguably as important and impressive. So could you say what is at stake in Frege’s work?

GK: As many people have pointed out, Frege was the first to develop rigorously what has since been called a theory of meaning, and truth sits at the centre of his model. And why is a theory of meaning so important? Ultimately I think it isn’t so important, but in certain moods it is not hard to accept that the idea, as has been made very explicit by Michael Dummett, is more fundamental than epistemology or metaphysics. I would say that Frege is more properly compared with Newton than with Einstein, if you had to choose.