Glory, beauty, epiphany, imagination: how to do moral philosophy

Richard Marshall interviews Sophie Grace Chappell in 3:AM Magazine:

Don’t start with a moral theory, start with where you actually are. Here is a question that I think ethicists should be asking alongside Nagel’s famous question about bats (at the moment I want to use it as the title of Epiphanies Chapter 4): “What is it like to be a human being?” So start with that. Start with what it’s like to be you, with your subjectivity here and now, with what looks serious and real and important and beautiful and (yes, why not?) fun to you just as you are, from your own viewpoint. Because actually that’s the only place you ever can start from, really, and one tendency of systematising theories is to obscure this truth.

3:AM:  What made you become a philosopher?

Sophie Grace Chappell: For a long time it wasn’t obvious to me, or anyone else, that I would become a philosopher. I didn’t actually know that that was going to happen till I was 27. I had some philosophical interests from a very early age indeed, in particular an obsession with Socrates and Heracleitus; from about 6 or 7 I devoured Lewis’ and Tolkien’s books, and read everything I could about their world-view. And once I sat down with an exercise book and tried to write down in it every truth there is about what exists, in a single systematising summary. Or perhaps I mean a Summa, because the next thing I knew I found a copy of Aquinas in the town library in Bolton, and I realised someone else had already done pretty much that, and the name for that game was “metaphysics”. At the time I was a bit miffed to be beaten to it. I was about 12.

But besides philosophy I had lots of other academic interests as well, in poetry and literature and opera and history and politics and languages for instance: I spent a lot of my childhood inventing fantasy languages and alphabets.

More here.

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