The important thing

The last day of class is always bittersweet, when it’s been a good semester. It has been, and it was. To those students who told me they were sad it’s over: the feeling is totally mutual. But you know where to find me, let’s not be strangers.

There were so many strong final report presentations yesterday, on so many sprawling topics: Johnny Cash, Switchfoot, Dungeons & Dragons, Kant and dating (reminds me of the story my old Brooklyn-born prof the “Kant specialist” told on himself of how he met his future wife, despite her serious misunderstanding of his self-introduction-but never mind), Socrates, Snow White & Freemasons (!), Hobbes & Machiavelli & neurolinguistic programming(!!)…

And Malcolm’s (whose surname alone almost merits a passing grade in Philosophy… Ecrasez l’Infame!) on the meaning of life. He talked about TED, Robert WrightMonty Python, George Carlin*, Futurama, and Owen Gingerich, among many others. The Galaxy Song makes him (like Mrs. Brown) feel small and insignificant and “in need of comic relief;” it just makes me grin, and reminds me of what Emily Dickinson said: “the brain is wider than the sky” etc.

*George Carlin was wrong, by the way, though immortally funny: we must save the planet from ourselves.  Nothing else we ever do will mean as much. Please read this and especially this, and let your conscience be your guide.

Most fittingly, Malcolm closed his report (as we closed our survey of the history of philosophy) with Peter Singer. The meaning of life is inseparable from the choices we make.

Well, as I said in that questionnaire: I hope we’ll all choose to go on asking questions, listening to different answers, and thinking. Right, Professor?



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