Colin Farrelly was born in Hamilton, Ontario. He studied philosophy and history at McMaster University and then moved to the UK to pursue his PhD in philosophy at Bristol University (1996-1999). He has held academic appointments at universities in Scotland, England and Canada, and is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Queen's University in Canada. His books include Justice, Democracy and Reasonable Agreement, An Introduction to Contemporary Political Theory and Virtue Jurisprudence (co-edited with Larry Solum). Colin blogs at In Search of Enlightenment.
Why do you blog? > Because it's fun. I enjoy being able to think 'out loud' when my ideas are still in the earliest stages of development. My blog also serves as an online resource for me to find studies and notes I want to return to at a future time. So the blog permits me to reach a level of organization I could never achieve in the 'non-virtual' world of paper and filing cabinets.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Seeing how my ideas have evolved over time, from the initial thoughts expressed on my blog to the final product published as an academic paper years later.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Darwin, Socrates, Aristotle, Newton, Hume, Bentham, Mill and Dewey.
What are you reading at the moment? > Amartya Sen's The Idea of Justice.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Children, women, Darwin, Socrates, da Vinci, Shakespeare, Galileo, Johannes Gutenberg, Jethro Tull, Edward Jenner, Jacques-Louis David, Beethoven, John Snow, Edwin Chadwick, Charles Babbage, Benjamin Franklin, Louis Pasteur, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, J.R.R. Tolkien, Picasso, Bertrand Russell, John Maynard Smith, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Bob Dylan, Bill Gates, Richard Dawkins, Aubrey De Grey.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > It has been a long time since I read fiction, but Emile Zola's Germinal made a lasting impression on me.
What is your favourite movie? > The Paper Chase.
What is your favourite song? > '100 Years' by Five for Fighting.
Who is your favourite composer? > Bob Dylan.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Justice (my mind is always changing on that issue).
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > 'The unexamined life is not worth living.'
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Martin Seligman's Authentic Happiness has profoundly changed my perception of the world. Anyone interested in trying to make the world a better place ought to begin with the science of happiness. Without the knowledge of what happiness is, and what can influence (for better or worse) human happiness, we can't effectively tackle the fundamental concern of political theory: namely, 'what should be done?'
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > To shift our almost exclusive focus on the proximate causes of morbidity and mortality to an approach that invests just as much in understanding (and mitigating) the evolutionary causes of morbidity and mortality.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > I think the greatest threat to the health and economic prosperity of the world's populations this century is ageing.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > The best is yet to come.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Play!
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? > Yes.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Empathy.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Narcissism.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'Experience is the best teacher.'
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > I guess Colin Farrell would be an obvious choice!
What would your ideal holiday be? > Spending time playing with my family.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Spare time, what is that?
What is your most treasured possession? > I don't really treasure objects (besides my laptop). The things most dear to me are relationships - to the people I love and the ideas and thinkers that inspire me and fuel my curiosity.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Troy.
What talent would you most like to have? > Musicality.
Who are your sporting heroes? > Pelé, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joe Montana, Greg Norman and Tiger Woods.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > That we develop the ability to modify the biological clocks we have inherited from our Darwinian past, so that we can reduce the tsunami of chronic disease that the world's ageing populations will face this century.
What animal would you most like to be? > Human.
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