Andreas Matthias on Writing About Philosophy




Dr Andreas Matthias teaches philosophy at an Asian university. Before becoming a philosopher, he worked for twenty years as a programmer at a German university. He is the publisher and editor of Daily Philosophy, author of multiple books, and one half of the Accented Philosophy podcast.

This interview was first published in Spanish on Filosofia En La Red and conducted by its founder, philosopher Miguel Angel.

Miguel Angel:
Welcome to this interview! Let us begin with: what’s your earliest memory? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Greece; my mother was German, originally from a Czech family, and my father Greek. As soon as I finished school, I moved to Germany and, twenty years later, to Hong Kong. Now my family is also Chinese, so we are a Greek/German/Chinese mixture.

But I find that I tend to see Greece as my cultural home. It’s the country I identify most with. It’s an easy country to love, with its beaches, long summers, and that wonderful food. I sometimes feel that, to me, only Greek food feels like real food. Everything else is eating for survival. It works, but I rarely enjoy it. In the future, I hope to end my life as a small-time farmer on a piece of land in Greece.

One has to be silly to take a career in philosophy seriously. 

I’m not good at earliest memories, or any memories at all. I sometimes forget what I did this morning, so it’s pointless for me to try and remember what happened fifty years ago. And, frankly, I don’t care. I’m always looking into the future, wondering what’s going to happen to us in a year, or five, or ten. It’s not anxiety – it’s a feeling of expectation. As if the best is yet to come. I know, it’s silly to think this way when you’re over fifty, but there you have it. One has to be silly to take a career in philosophy seriously.

Miguel Angel:
How did you get into philosophy?

That’s actually one of the bits I do remember. My father wanted me to be a lawyer, like he was. So he sent me off to Germany to study law. There I got into a class that was about the philosophy of law, and I was hooked. I didn’t care a bit about the actual laws. It was much more interesting to think about how the laws should be, or to learn how they turned out to be as they were. So I ditched law and studied philosophy instead. But I was never a good student. I was too restless to stick to one thing. In parallel with philosophy, I also studied chemistry, one semester of physics, German literature and, finally, a whole master’s degree in biology. So now I am (in theory) a biologist and philosopher. But I’ve forgotten most of my biology over the past thirty years, so it’s only on paper. It comes in handy when my kids ask me questions about science, though. I still remember enough to impress a ten-year old.

Miguel Angel:
What did your parents make of your decision to pursue philosophy?

My father never really warmed to the idea, but that’s okay. I guess it will be the same when my son tells me he wants to be a lawyer or …

Originally appeared on Daily Philosophy Read More



Book to consider: Memorabilia

by Xenophon An essential text for understanding Socrates, Xenophon’s Memorabilia is the compelling tribute of an affectionate student to his teacher, providing...