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so you want to squeeze as many different things in as you can.” Not that he rules out giving philosophy a second crack. “I do genuinely think about going back to it. Anything has its ups and downs and I’m very happy with what I do at the moment, but occasionally I think that I’m not using every part of my brain, or I’m just using a different part than I used to and I miss that verbal reasoning aspect. Five or ten years ago I would have been able to have a more articulate conversation with you than I can at the moment. Any module of the brain starts to atrophy quite quickly if it’s not exercised.” Despite protestations of rustiness, MacInnes’s conversation shows that he’s retained a great deal of his philosophical knowledge and skill, combined with the kind of no-nonsense opinionating that not being involved at a scholarly level allows you. For instance, he gives an articulate explanation of why he thinks many of the leading thought experiments in the philosophy of mind don’t work. “You don’t really know what you’re imaging with them. Even the Chinese room, you’re asked to imagine a computer programme which can perform the Turing Test. How can you imagine that? What that programme would be like? We don’t even know if it’s possible.” Only his conclusion suggests that he’s gone a bit rock and roll: “A lot of these thought experiments are a load of bollocks really, aren’t they?” He’s good value on David Chalmers, who he says was offered the philosophy of mind professorship in Oxford “which he palpably didn’t deserve”. Of his acclaimed The Conscious Mind he says, “Even the footnotes are riddled with absurdity and contradictions.” His attitude to philosophy is somewhat ambivalent, which is arguably the mark of the truly philosophical temperament. “Some of my favourite philosophers had a real love/hate relationship with the subject, like Wittgenstein. If you’re going to be constantly doubting everything then you’re going to be doubting the validity of your own enterprise, I suppose.” You sense there is too little change in academic philosophy to keep MacInnes interested for long. “In any kind of academic field, people seem to reach their position in their twenties or thirties and then bang on about it for another two decades until they eventually get a festschrift in their honour or something. If you’re not careful, it can be a rather boring way to spend your life.”

So don’t expect his next album to be Destroy Rock and Roll 2 . In an example of the kind of incongruous juxtaposition that sums up MacInnes’s life to date, I can now reveal what is not only a TPM first, but surely a last: a pop scoop. “I think it will be quite different,” says MacInnes of his long-awaited second album. “In the last year or two in the electronic music scene there’s been an explosion in this really underground, minimal, repetitive techno music from Germany, which everybody is expecting me to get into because it’s the new hot thing, but I don’t really know if it’s my cup of tea. I think I’m likely to do something a bit more underground. I want to do a continuous bit of music. That was really a collection of demos, the first album, that I kind of scrubbed up.” He certainly doesn’t covet fame, and comes over as a somewhat shy person, making little eye contact early in our conversation, before loosening up a bit. Playing live presented a real challenge. “The requirement to speak into a microphone between tracks, I found that completely mortifying. I think it would be a bit more fun to work as a producer for some pop star where I could potter about in the studio and let them go out and do the promotional stuff.” Whatever he does next, you sense MacInnes will keep his feet firmly on the ground and his head screwed securely on. You can take the man out of philosophy, but you can’t take the philosophy out of the man. P M T

The Philosophers' Magazine /4th quarter 2006

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