Creator and editor of Ordinary Philosophy blog, podcast, and history of ideas travel series, Amy Cools holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy with an emphasis on Applied Ethics and Law from Sacramento State University, and she’ll be resuming her formal education soon. She’s also an avid hiker and quilter, loves mystery stories and music, and thinks coffee, ale, cheese, and a British breakfast are among the most delightful things the world has to offer.
What excites you about philosophy?
There’s something about discovering or realizing a truth about the world and about our inner experiences of it that’s more thrilling to me than anything else. When I first read Wilfred Seller’s definition of philosophy, the “aim…to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term”, I recognized that his conception of philosophy is closest to my own. I believe philosophy is something that all human beings engage in, to one degree or another, and to feel that I’m part of this great human endeavor to understand and appreciate the world is also deeply satisfying.
What is your favorite thing that you’ve written?
My recent travel series on the life and ideas of Frederick Douglass, who I consider a philosopher-in-action. I planned this series to be the most in-depth ‘traveling philosophy’ series I’d done so far. But what I discovered, and continue to discover, is an even greater wealth of complexity and depth than I expected, though I expected a lot. I’m hooked, and I know I’ll continue to study and ponder his work for years to come.
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?
Frederick Douglass, for reasons I explained above and because he was funny, a great mimic, very well-read, and very handsome.
Who is your favorite philosopher and why?
David Hume. I love his dedication to empiricism: it’s such an honest and humble approach, to hold yourself thoroughly accountable to something outside of your own mind: the world itself. I love his affability, the fact that he created the park on Calton Hill in Edinburgh so that his fellow townspeople would have a nearby place to get some exercise and enjoy nature, and his equanimity and concern for others as he patiently bore a protracted and painful final illness.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new talent, what would you most like it to be?
I would like to be able to tell a great story, gripping, compelling, and well-formed, on command.
What time of day are you most productive and creative?
I write best in the morning, when my mind’s clear and newly stimulated by coffee, not yet cluttered or distracted with the events and cares of the day. But I love to make art at night, often late into the night, usually with a glass of wine or two.
What is your favorite sound in the world?
John Cale’s singing voice.
When did you last sing to yourself, or to someone else?
The answer, almost every day, would be ‘today’.
Find out more about Amy here. Amy has previously written about Philosophy as a Love of Wisdom in the Public Sphere for the APA Blog and recorded it on her podcast here. Photo: Alex Black courtesy of Amy Cools.
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