Julian Baggini


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

Author Quotes

If we start to think about the different facets of ourselves as different people, we actually make each self or persona less than a full person. To be a whole person is precisely to have depth and more than one side.

It is situation, not character, which often makes the biggest difference to what we do.

No matter what their adult personality is, many people revert to childhood versions of themselves when they gather together as family.

People romanticize death and ageing in order to put it out of their minds and get on with their miserably short lives.? Aubrey de Grey, biomedical gerontologist

Something only seems to be missing because you?re expecting much more.

The problem with the postmodern conception of the self is that the fragmentation it sees is more of a theoretical necessity than an empirical reality.

These grand narratives are all false, because they impose a unified, singular structure on a world which has no fixed essence. In their place we need a multiplicity of narratives, ones which capture the different, contradictory perspectives that people in different times and places have of the world.

We are indeed less unified, coherent, consistent and enduring than we usually suppose, but we are still real and individual.

You fully understand who a person is not by observing them in only one kind of situation, but by knowing how they are in a variety of situations.

If what we are is not just given, we therefore have to choose what we become, and such choices have an ethical dimension, for we can choose to become faithful or faithless, honest or deceitful, generous or mean.

It usually really matters to someone if there is a disconnect between how they see themselves and how others see them.

Not all that is precious impresses at first sight: more people have got rich mining coal than diamonds, and oil moves more machinery than gold.

PERSON is not a biological category, but a functional one.

Sometimes we believe we have successfully imagined something when we have in fact done no such thing.

The self has no immutable essence. Rather, it is constructed, like a fiction.

They have been wary of explanations which commit what is known as the homunculus fallacy. This is best explained through the example of vision. Armed with an elementary knowledge of how the eye works, it is tempting to think that light shines on the retina and then the brain creates from this a single, three-dimensional image. But who sees this image?

We are nothing but our parts, but we are more than just our parts.

You probably think that you are being ignored because you are working outside of the universities, that snobbery is at work here. There may be some truth in this. It is much easier to have your work read if you have an academic position than not. But although this may be partly to do with snobbery that isn?t the whole story. The truth is that there is just too much philosophy being produced in the world, and anyone interested in it has to apply some crude filters to decide what to look at, let alone seriously read.

If you reject the singular grand narrative, it does not follow that we should embrace an infinity of contradictory narratives.

It?s an empty question: it looks like a genuine question that should have an answer, but it has none. All sorts of questions of sameness in real life are of this kind.

Not only memories, but skills and personality traits are often to some extent state-dependent.

Personal identity cannot float free from the physical, but it is not entirely determined by the physical.

Sometimes we miss what is most important simply because we are looking in the wrong direction, or through the wrong end of the telescope.

The self is a construction of the mind, one flexible enough to withstand constant renovation, partial demolition and reconstruction, but one that can be brought down if the foundations are undermined.

Thinking and feeling are what brains and bodies do. Mind should not be thought of a substance, but as a kind of activity.

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