Brin is a sci-fi author and technical consultant with a Ph.D. in astrophysics. For a fun bit of moral analysis of pop culture, see his 1999 Salon.com article re. why demi-god myths like Star Wars are evil. (Presumably Tolkien too.) In the GeeksOn interview, he gives us more of this, discussing why most movies feel the need to portray society as evil and humanity as irredeemable, as well as his reflections on current politics, 9/11, the American zeitgeist, aesthetics (he agrees with my sentiment that we should enjoy whatever out there is at all enjoyable), and more.
Now, in the olden days, this guy would be considered a philosopher, in that he thinks deeply about a wide range of things and provides a coherent and attractive world view. Even if I end up disagreeing with him, he presents reasons for his idiosyncratic conclusions that make me want to try his view on, and I emerge the better for it (as opposed to, say, Camille Paglia, who presents her idiosyncratic conclusions in the manner of someone who seems to assume that if you’re not stupid, you’re already thinking like her, and ends up bewildering my attempts to sympathize). Yet apparently, despite having well-reasoned views on human nature and culture and being widely read (he discusses Adam Smith for a bit here), he’s not a philosopher, right, because he doesn’t bring up ancient Greeks and Descartes and traditional problems of epistemology, semantics, etc.? Hmmmm. I, for one, will take interesting ideas wherever I can find them. (Besides which, his books about talking dolphins are cool.)