Julian Baggini


British Philosopher and Author, Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Philosopher's Magazine

Author Quotes

In that sense, we can perhaps see the wedding vows as being even deeper than usually thought: it is not just that I promise to have and to hold, I promise to try to build future selves that will be able to maintain this vow.

Meaning of life is now, or never. I have rejected the view that life's purpose can be understood by looking backwards to its origins. But that doesn't mean the only alternative is looking forward to its ultimate end. Just as the restaurant staff are fulfilling their professional purposes in the present simply by doing their job, couldn't we fulfill life's purpose in the present simply by living our lives?... So if life is to be meaningful, the "why/because" series cannot extend indefinitely into the future. At some point we have to reach an end point where a further "why" question is unnecessary, misguided, or nonsensical. Otherwise the purpose of life is forever beyond our reach... As we have repeatedly seen, at some point we have to reach the stage where a "why" question can be met with an answer along the lines of "Are you nuts? Why wouldn't anyone want that?" If not, the "why/because" series just extends into the indefinite future... Yet so many of us do look towards some idyllic future when we have "made it" as providing purpose for what we do. This is a mistake and at its root is a failure to realize that if what is being worked towards is worthwhile in itself, then so are many other things that are within our grasp right now.

Our self-knowledge is severely limited if we fail to see how our interactions with others also reveal important truths about who we are.

Ryle accused dualists of making what he called a ?category mistake?. They started from the correct idea that thoughts, feelings and sensations were not physical things. The category mistake was to conclude that they must therefore be a different kind of thing, a non-physical thing.

The central truth is not that character is a myth, but that it varies more according to situation than we tend to assume.

The very notion of psychological continuity assumes a large degree of physical continuity, because a great deal of what fills our minds is intimately tied up with our bodies.

To identify a whole with what is simply one of its parts, no matter how important, is to commit what Max Bennett and Peter Hacker call the ?mereological fallacy?.

We know, if people label themselves in a certain way, that label comes to motivate behavior.

In western culture, mind and reason are ?coded? masculine, while emotion and body are coded feminine. Men are ruled by their heads, women by their hearts.

Memories are not passive chunks of information. Rather, memory is an active process, the contents of which are forever in flux.

Our sense of self is rooted in what we think and how we feel. Our bodies at least in part shape this sense of self, as a plaster cast molds a statue. But just as no one would confuse the cast with the work of art, so we should not misidentify the body with the core of self.

Science is indeed one of our highest human achievements and we should respect it, admire it and draw on its findings to inform our world view. But it cannot provide the entirety of such a view and nor can we blithely assume that it will always support our most fundamental beliefs.

The Ego Trick is not to persuade us that we exist when we do not, but to make us believe we are more substantial and enduring than we really are.

The very word ?ecstasy? in Greek means to stand outside of yourself.

Tsongkhapa?s philosophy follows what is known as Madhyamaka ? the middle way ? between the nihilism of believing that nothing real exists and the view that ultimate reality is eternal and unchanging.

We would expect that character is often under-developed and that people would indeed behave differently according to circumstances. And that is precisely what the evidence does suggest.

I don?t think it aids the cause of clarity to continue to focus on something closely correlated, but not identical to, the issue that matters, rather than the issue itself.

It all came to a head on a mindfulness retreat. Part of the practice involves observing what thoughts and feelings arise in the mind and considering what such thoughts depend on. What stimulated it? What was the trigger?

Moral claims are judgments it is always possible to someone to disagree with... without saying something that is factually false... you may disagree with me but you cannot say I have made a factual error.

Our sense of self may well be strongly affected by the social world we inhabit, but the sense itself remains inner, psychological.

Second, you have no immaterial soul. Whatever stuff you are made from, it is the same kind of stuff that everything else is made of, be it plankton, cabbages or orangutans.

The fact that we can imagine something does not prove that it is possible.

The whole point of dancing is that you let yourself go. You?re having a sensational time, that is to say you?re putting a premium once again on the senses, as you would as a small child, you?re back in the booming, buzzing confusion.

Unity is the product of the self-system, it is not the basis of it.

Well-makers lead the water (wherever they like); fletchers bend the arrow; carpenters bend a log of wood; wise people fashion themselves.

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British Philosopher and Author, Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Philosopher's Magazine