Photo of Daniel Hutto

APA Member Interview: Daniel Hutto

Born and raised in New York, Daniel Hutto began his worldly adventures in St Andrews, Scotland visiting the land where his maternal roots lie. After living and working in Hertfordshire, England for over 20 years, he has now taken up the mantle of Professor of Philosophical Psychology at the University of Wollongong Australia.

What excites you about philosophy?

Philosophy has no limits. It targets root issues. Even though it fails to supply answers, let alone final answers, it fearlessly grapples with questions that most need our attention. That is why I fell in love with philosophy at first sight all those years ago, and I believe it is what still attracts most people to it.

What is your favorite thing that you’ve written?

That’s easy: whatever I’ve just written! More seriously, I am happiest with my latest books with Erik Myin – Evolving EnactivismRadicalizing Enactivismand Folk Psychological Narratives. They contain some of my most honed, original lines of argument; and all of them have their cheeky moments.

What are you most proud of in your professional life?

Being intellectually adventurous (aiming for the slipstream not the mainstream); keeping an open mind (I once held complete opposing views to those I propound now); and holding my philosophical ground.

What are you working on right now? 

Apart from this interview, a new paper on why adopting a deflationist take on mental representation won’t deliver the goods.

What common philosophical dilemma do you think has a clear answer? 

None – though some have resolutions.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new talent, what would you most like it to be?

To stop time for all but me – just for short periods, so I can catch up on a few things!

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Helping to build academic environments that attract students to philosophy, and in which those new to the profession can thrive and build their futures.  I am also quite proud to have introduced the first open sessions to the Mind/Aristotelian Society–after 200-years–in 1998, and then in 2017, led the committee that spearheaded the establishment of undergraduate membership–after nearly 100-years–in the Australian Association of Philosophy.

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?

Right now, I’d be sorely tempted to ask whether, at the end of days, we will have a workable naturalized theory of content. While knowing that would not settle too much in the on-going disputes in which I am embroiled, it would help me to focus my energies and deal with certain objections! I am assuming that the crystal ball only reports on the actual and not all possible worlds. If the latter, I’ll go with the same question, but with expectations of an even more interesting answer.

What is your favorite sound in the world?

The whoosh of a TARDIS!

What’s your personal philosophy?

“Stay out of trouble” – Obviously, not!

If you could be anyone else for a day, who would that be and why?

My second son: Justin. I’d like to know him better. Though just how could this work? Is being someone else possible? How could I both be he and me at once?

What three things are on your bucket list that you’ve not yet accomplished?

No 1. Write a bucket list! No. 2 and 3 will have to wait.

Name a trait, skill or characteristic that you have that others may not know about.

Intellectual humility.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Reading my choice of philosophy or great literature by the pool.

What do you like to do outside work?

Could you repeat the question?

What are you reading right now?  Would you recommend it? 

Grant applications. Not really.

What would your childhood self say if someone told you that you would grow up to be a philosopher? 

You lucky dog!

When did you last sing to yourself, or to someone else?

When I felt the need to self-flagellate or to be alone.

What’s your most treasured memory?

Flipper, the dolphin, stealing and dragging my Mexican hat out to sea in Florida: Entirely planted by my parents. But can so-called false memories be memories? This could become a long answer!  To hear more, click here.

What time of day are you most productive and creative?

Sometime, after coffee, between waking and sleeping, as far as I can tell.

What are your goals and aspirations outside work?

There’s an outside?

If you could have a one-hour conversation with any philosopher or historical figure from any time, who would you pick and what topic would you choose?

Aristotle. Biology. I’d like to have word with him about Darwin and evolution!

Who is your favorite philosopher and why?

At the moment: Ruth Millikan. Sharp, serious and came closest to naturalizing content!

You’re stuck on a desert island and you can only have one recreational activity.  What is it?

Swimming, I suppose! My inherited Scottish skin doesn’t sunbathe well.

What three items would you take to a desert island other than food and water?

A plane; a pilot; and enough petrol.

What is your least favorite type of fruit and why?

Durian! Why? Click here. I am married to a lovely Malaysian who, for my sins, utterly adores it.

Where would you go in a time machine?

I am torn between visiting Aristotle (see previous answer) and going nowhere at all: Isn’t time an illusion, and lunchtime doubly so?

Which super power would you like to have?

Perfect good luck.

What cause or charity do you care about most?

The fate of philosophy in today’s market-driven academy and world, inter alia.

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

Durian. See previous answer: I suspect I’d last longer.

What’s your poison (favorite drink)?

Hemlock.

What would you like your last meal to be? 

What are you implying?

If you were a brick in the wall which brick would you be?

I always prefer an aisle seat.

What technology do you wish the human race could discover/create/invent right now?

The philosophical attention focuser – a device that draws and holds the attention of anyone within a specified radius on a philosophical issue for a period of time. A close second: the articulator – which renders garbled speech and writing into clear, concise prose. Both could sell.

What’s your top tip or advice for APA members reading this?

Do not visit Matthew Ratcliffe in Vienna without securing your full program of activities in writing! (To find out why, see next answer.)

What advice do you wish someone had given you?

Avoid giving philosophical explanations on the Olympia Looping Rollercoaster!

Find out more about Dan 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 to nominate yourself or a friend.

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