Welcome to my website, which is a guide to my professional life as a writer and philosopher. My CV provides detailed information concerning my career.
Last year (2014) I published three books, on which I had been working intermittently in recent years. I was very heartened that all three were chosen among people's 'books of the year'. The Soul of the World was chosen by Jonathan Clark in the TLS and also by Alexander McCall Smith in The Scotsman. This book is now being translated into Dutch. My novel, about Czechoslovakia before 1989, Notes from Underground was chosen by Raymond Tallis in the TLS and How to be a Conservative was chosen among political books by the Sunday Times and as book of the year by Labour MP Jon Cruddas in The New Statesman.
Recent broadcasts have been in the BBC's Point of View series and I considered themes covering the nature and limits of democracy, education and art. Podcasts on the BBC website (search by date Aug 2013, March 2014 and December 2014).
I graduated from Cambridge University in 1965, spent two years abroad and then pursued an academic career in philosophy, first in Cambridge, and then in London, until 1990, when I took a year's leave of absence to work for an educational charity in Czechoslovakia. (This charity grew from the 'underground university' which colleagues and I had established in the last decade of communism. My contacts with the countries of the old Eastern Bloc remain strong. (See this lecture delivered in Hungary in 2013:)) I then taught part-time at Boston University Massachusetts until the end of 1994, while building up a public affairs consultancy in Eastern Europe. Since then I have been a free-lance writer and consultant, taking on short-term contracts when necessary. I am currently senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., where I am currently pursuing projects on the need for a new urbanism and on the cultural impact of neuroscience. Since 1996 I have been married to Sophie, and we have two children, Sam, born in 1998 and Lucy, born in 2000.
My principal activity remains what it has been for the last 30 years, which is writing, and my books and articles cover a broad range of topics in several genres (Read my novella A Dove Descending here). My serious academic research has been in the area of aesthetics, with two books – The Aesthetics of Architecture and The Aesthetics of Music – that I would like to think have made a small contribution to their respective fields. In addition I have written essays, criticism, autobiography, invocations of country life, novels and poems (I discuss my intellectual identity here). You will also find on this site some traces of my hobby as an amateur composer (My opera 'Violet' is available here).