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APA Member Interview: Sandy Grant

Sandy Grant is a philosopher at the University of Cambridge and at Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge. She tweets at @TheSandyGrant.

What excites you about philosophy?

It is always a great pleasure to do philosophy. I find it especially thrilling to think about freedom, to discuss it with others, and to write about it. That has been my biggest thrill in philosophy, which is the perfect medium for a freedom junkie. Philosophers could do more to spread the love.

What else excites you?

Poetry, especially by modern and contemporary poets. There is a delight in playing with words. I really like Ezra Pound:

Petals on a wet, black bough.

What is your favorite thing that you’ve written?

Always the last thing I wrote; in this case a piece on showing off for Aeon. The English may be scandalized by it but I hope that Americans will get it. I visited Berkeley some years ago and found a fantastically affirming intellectual culture. People smiled when anyone showed off and were ready to give praise. It seems that we English have much to learn about these things.

What are you most proud of in your professional life?

Well… three things. The first is probably taking my degrees. It’s a long way to Cambridge for a girl from a Lincolnshire village. Second is the bravery in giving my first lectures. They were in an austere lecture hall in Cambridge where there had been famous scientific discoveries. I was rather young at the time. None of the students piped down when I came in. The dawning look of astonishment (or maybe horror!) as it became clear that I was the lecturer I will never forget. Third is my students. I’ve been lucky to work with some brilliant and enthusiastic people.

What’s your favourite song?

Mama Cass singing Make Your Own Kind of Music.

Who is your favorite philosopher and why?

Wittgenstein, for the audacity of his thought. I should have liked to have been in one of those deck chairs.

If you were an ice cream what flavor would you be?

Definitely not vanilla.

Find out more about Sandy here.  

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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.

2 thoughts on “APA Member Interview: Sandy Grant

  1. Interesting question. It is quite the publicity stunt. I have seen a range of responses, including:
    (i) But is it literature?
    (ii) Why give it to a male celebrity in a year when no women got a Nobel?
    It seems an opportunity to think about prize culture. Universities now award honorary degrees to celebrities, which seems of a piece with it. Cambridge gave one to Hillary Mantel, a pop novelist, not long ago. This raised some eyebrows… What is it to accept a Nobel too? – when you are a rad/critical soul like Dylan. That one arose already with Sartre I guess. I am in (at least) two minds about prize culture. On the one hand it recognising distinction seems okay. ‘All must have prizes’ was meant as an absurdity. However, what gets deemed to be distinction can be contested. Why award a songster a lit prize, however flowery his lyrics?

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