Berislav Marušić is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Brandeis University. His research interests lie at the intersection of ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind. He received his Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley and his B.A. from Harvard University, and he is the proud dad of Marko (almost 7) and Petra (4).
What excites you about philosophy?
I think that our lives are less comprehensible than they seem, and that we often flee from this incomprehensibility, because we can’t bear it. Philosophy excites me when it identifies the seemingly incomprehensible and addresses it in clear and principled fashion.
Here is an example: My mom passed away eight years ago, very suddenly, at age 55. I was immediately very sad—and for good reason. But now, eight years later, I do not feel much sadness. Yet doesn’t my reason for sadness remain the same? The passage of time has not undone my mom’s death or its significance. How, then, am I to make sense of the diminution of sadness over time?
What is your favorite thing that you’ve written?
My book Evidence and Agency. There, I consider how, as agents, we should take into account evidence about our future actions. I started thinking about this when I was getting married: I wondered how I could promise to be faithful to my spouse in light of evidence that people who are in many respects like me occasionally break such promises. I concluded that since it is up to me to be faithful, I can settle that I will be faithful not in light of evidence, but as an agent—in light of reasons that show this to be the thing to do.
What are you most proud of in your non-professional life?
My kids. The feeling of pride especially grips me when they are asleep.
If you could only use one condiment for the rest of your life, which condiment would you pick, and why?
Mayonnaise. I love it. It is probably the one food item that I consumed most of during my first year in college. Also, I have a longstanding preoccupation with mayonnaise. In kindergarten, I had a theory that everything was made of (tiny) sand. But mayonnaise was the counterexample that I did not know how to handle, and this preoccupied me.
If you were an ice cream what flavor, would you be?
I put the question to my family. My daughter (in the photo) said: “Nuts with ears and hair.” The conversation went downhill from there.
Find out more about Berislav Marušić here. Photo © Katrin Andrzejewski.
This section of the APA Blog is designed to get to know our fellow philosophers a little better. We’re including profiles of APA members that spotlight what captures their interest not only inside the office, but also outside of it. We’d love for you to be a part of it, so please contact us via the interview nomination form here.