Rorty and Quine

Mark Edmundson remembers Richard Rorty (from Slate)

I was a colleague of Richard Rorty’s for 15 or so years at the University of Virginia. We taught three classes together: one on Freud; one on Romanticism and pragmatism; and one on the sublime and the beautiful. We shared a lot of meals and also a fair amount of gossip—though a diffident person in some ways, Dick dearly loved to talk. He took an interest in my children—a mark of a true friend—and often came back from trips with gifts for them. I remember a number of stuffed animals and books about birds, which were a passion of Dick’s. It was funny to see my 3- and 5-year-olds tickled and teased by the most famous philosopher in the world.

The passage reminded me of this introduction to Peter Wilson’s A Terrible Beauty: The People and Ideas that Shaped the Modern World

In the mid 1980s, on assignment for the London Observer, I was shown around Harvard University by Willard van Orman Quine. It was February, and the ground was covered in ice and snow. We both fell over. Having the world’s greatest living philosopher all to myself for a few hours was a rare privilege.


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