AC Grayling, philosopher: 'William Hazlitt is an acquired taste, but a great one'

The philosopher discusses Steinbeck's short novels, hero-worship, and Bertrand Russell

Thursday 03 March 2016 17:28
Comments
AC Grayling: 'Hero-worship is not a desirable activity, since it involves too great a suspension of discernment in the face of the alloy that is human nature'
AC Grayling: 'Hero-worship is not a desirable activity, since it involves too great a suspension of discernment in the face of the alloy that is human nature'

Where are you now and what can you see?

I am in my study at the New College of the Humanities, looking out over the trees of Bedford Square gardens [London], Centre Point rising beyond and a distant aircraft making its deliberate way westward towards Heathrow.

What are you currently reading?

Several things, some for research on a current project, some for pleasure. The reading for pleasure includes Steinbeck's short novels and Herbert Muller's classic Freedom in the Ancient World.

Who is your favourite author?

William Hazlitt, for his superb writing and vigorous and honest thought. His range of topics – philosophy, art, theatre, politics, life – is consistently absorbing. He is an acquired taste, but a great one.

Describe the room where you usually write

I write either in my study at the College or at home in a small, very quiet back room at the top of the house, with a view to a high ivy-covered wall at the bottom of the garden, and open sky above it. It is as visually quiet as it is in the auditory way, unusual for the centre of London, but conducive.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Hero-worship is not a desirable activity, since it involves too great a suspension of discernment in the face of the alloy that is human nature. But among those I admire is Bertrand Russell, who did not restrict himself to technical work in philosophy and logic but made many contributions to life and society, wanting to make a difference for the good.

AC Grayling is Master of New College of the Humanities, London, and its Professor of Philosophy. His new book, 'The Age of Genius', is published by Bloomsbury

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in