Jean Kazez grew up in a university town in central Pennsylvania not understanding there are jobs in the world besides college professor. She became one after getting a PhD in philosophy at the University of Arizona, where she studied philosophy of mind. After teaching full time for several years, she had twins and decided to move in a new direction. That decision is discussed in her article 'The Mommy Wars' in the current issue of The Philosopher's Magazine. Jean's new book is The Weight of Things: Philosophy and the Good Life. She blogs at Jean Kazez.
Why do you blog? > I like being the editor, writer and graphic designer of my own little magazine. Through the blog I'm connecting with all sorts of people I'd never meet in real life.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Peter Singer; Martha Nussbaum.
What are you reading at the moment? > Not on Our Watch by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Must have two: Independent People by Halldor Laxness and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.
What is your favourite poem? > Golden Gate by Vikram Seth. A novel in the form of a poem - it's great!
What is your favourite movie? > Woody Allen's Manhattan.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Gay marriage. A long time ago I was against.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Moral relativism.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition. The beautiful writing and imagery had a lasting impact, plus the idea that there are very basic differences between ways of life.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Religious extremism.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Find something you love to do... and do it.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > No.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Kindness.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Insensitivity.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > When nothing serious is at stake and someone's feelings can be spared.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Strange US recreation - the 'tailgate' party. You park by a football stadium (y'know, the American game) and eat dinner while sitting next to the back of your car. Very popular in central Pennsylvania.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > My kids, just because I adore them.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I would not have studied continental philosophy. Big waste of time. It kills me to think I've read Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind twice, and I could say maybe 10 sentences about it. I would have discovered analytic philosophy much sooner.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Laura Dern (but not because I look like her).
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > London. (My husband made me say that.)
What would your ideal holiday be? > Barrow Alaska up there next to the Arctic Ocean. From there, fly to points west.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Hanging out at good bookstore with husband and kids.
What talent would you most like to have? > I'd like to be able to sing.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Rabbi. This is the perfect job for a 'people person' who likes to read, write, think. If only I believed in God.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > I don't like comedians and humorists, but I make an exception for David Sedaris.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > How about a review of my book in the New York Times Book Review? It better be a good one though.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > My personal life wouldn't change. I'm happy with it as it is. I would start something like the Bill Gates foundation and do something about extreme poverty.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Richard Dawkins, Nick Hornby, and Ruth Ozeki. We will have a serious conversation that's sprinkled with wicked humour.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]