People think that philosophy is about pondering, and ideally answering, questions like the following ones: Does life have meaning? What…
1. What is your demon? Laziness. And fear of failure. Luckily, they usually cancel each other out, but it’s a constant war.
2. What is the most important part of your education? Whatever part taught me to follow the evidence and never favour a comforting lie over an inconvenient truth.
3. Which thinker has had the greatest influence on your life? Probably Darwin for the early part. Then Bertrand Russell. Then Christopher Hitchens in recent years. Basically, fearless warriors of truth and justice.
4. What do you doubt most? The good in religion and everything it promises.
5. If you could change one thing in the world what would that be? I should probably say reverse global warming or end war and poverty, or something. But maybe it would be to instate a law that anyone who doesn’t understand The Burden of Proof gets severe electric shocks until they do.
6. What is happiness? It’s a feeling that comes when you briefly forget that you’re going to get old, bewildered, irrelevant, and then die.
7. What illusion do you suffer from? Free will and importance.
8. If you could choose, what would you have for your last meal? If I could choose, I’d choose to never know I was eating my last meal. But the answer is beans on toast with cheese on top.
9. What is your favourite word? I like words with -nge in them. Flange, minge, plunge, mungefuddler. I made the last one up. It’s a Flanimal. ‘Cunt’ is also very useful when describing a person who is a complete cunt.
10. What is your motto? Relax. No one else knows what they’re doing either.
11. What is a good death? Dying whilst doing something heroic. No wait. Dying whilst dreaming that you’re doing something heroic.
12. What do people accuse you of? Weeing on the toilet seat.
13. What is the meaning of life? To learn and understand as much about the world as possible. To have worth. To feel the privilege of existence. To stimulate the senses and have as much fun as possible without physically harming anyone. To cash in your chips when you want to. To own a dog.
Interview by Zan Boag. Ricky Gervais is an award-winning writer, director, and actor, who toured the world in 2017 with his recordbreaking world stand-up tour Humanity. This appeared in the ‘Life’ edition of New Philosopher, available in newsstands and bookstores in 27 countries (UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Asia, Middle East), as well as in the Republic of Korea (in Korean).