“A professor has two functions”

Grades reported!

I hate issuing grades, except well-earned A’s. Had more than a few of those this term, so I’m in relatively good spirits this a.m.

But, I’m also in that typical post-semester, tired-of-professing state of mind displayed by William James when he complained about his vocation,

…paid to talk talk talk. It would be an awful universe if everything could be converted into words words words.

I feel a touch of what he must have felt on retiring from Harvard in 1907:

I thank you for your congratulations on my retirement. It makes me very happy. A professor has two functions: (1) to be learned and distribute bibliographical information; (2) to communicate truth. The 1st function is the essential one, officially considered. The 2nd is the only one I care for. Hitherto I have always felt like a humbug as a professor, for I am weak in the first requirement. Now I can live for the second with a free conscience.

For a few weeks, anyway, my posts to this and other venues will be entirely in service of “communicating truth,” specifically in the form of a work-in-progress I’m calling Philosophy Walks. I’m going to resist the habitual urge to reflect overtly on whatever crosses pre- and semi-caffeinated consciousness, and stick to the business of philosophers who’ve walked and philosophy that’s emerged from walks of my own (with occasional “Happiness” and “Humanist” posts thrown in, just because my self-control is only human).

I’m guessing that might mean fewer pre-dawn posts in the days and weeks ahead. We’ll see.


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