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What do you believe?

Kurt Andersen: I don’t think of myself as having a personal philosophy. I suppose I do, even though I couldn’t say it’s utilitarian, or Buddhist. I don’t have a word for it or a set of words.

I find that I am mistrustful and temperamentally, almost instinctively mistrustful, of ideological thinking, which I suppose is a form of ideology in itself. But nevertheless, people who believe they understand the way the world works – religious ideologues, political ideologues, any kind of ideologues,  and then pursue life as a means of fulfilling that pre-existing set of understandings. Whatever the antithesis of that is, that’s my philosophy. Which is a kind of empirical, flexible sense of life.

I find myself going back and forth, depending on the circumstance, depending on the day, practically, depending on the issue we’re talking about, of feeling conservative or progressive, or feeling as though it’ll all work out in the end or it won’t. But so I can’t sum that up, except as I would say a kind of skepticism that doesn’t tip over into cynicism; an empiricism that isn’t without heart. I can give you more lines like that, but that would  get at the edges of my philosophy.

No. Religion or faith don’t play into my world view, at least not consciously. I was not raised in a religious tradition. My family, my parents were kind of lapsed Unitarians. Even if they were pious Unitarians, it wouldn’t have been a strict, religious faith. I don’t understand faith in God. And I have my moments of spiritualness. o I’m not 100% a kind of materialist. Well you know, I’m probably 97% that way. I’m mostly persuaded that, at least in my lifetime, that religious faith has done more harm than good.

Recorded On: July 5, 2007

Andersen is 97% materialist.

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