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You’re described as an evolutionary theorist. Does that make you a scientist or a philosopher?

It makes me a rationalist. There’s a significant amount of interpretation and extrapolation in what I do not usual in science but then there’s also a reliance on scientific principles and a desire to identify verifiable mechanisms and functions perhaps not typical of philosophy either. Some of my essays are clearly philosophical or based on social criticism, and have little or nothing to do with evolution, but they maintain a strong rationalist foundation at all times.

What are your main areas of interest?

As far as rationalism is concerned, all human behaviour should be subject to scrutiny so my essays cover a range of ideas and disciplines. More specifically, I’m drawn towards the evolution of cognitive functions and the development of intellect, which has led me to work on areas such as humour, memory and consciousness.

Are you, or have you ever been, an academic? If not, what qualifications do you have for the work you do?

After leaving Oxford I worked on a doctorate for two years which I then aborted because I was studying the subject from the point of view of the humanities, in which I had lost interest. It seemed like a sham to continue with something I no longer considered of value. I am not currently affiliated to a university or equivalent institution, and if you are questioning whether I have any scientific qualifications at university level then the answer is no, and I've never claimed to.

An Interview with Alastair Clarke

“With perhaps the literal exception of Copernicus, Darwin and Wallace have provided a greater perspective on the place the species occupies in the universe than any other individual in the history of the human race.”

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