The End

An unexpected trip to the emergency clinic, after Younger Daughter’s inelegant slide at second base last night, is another little reminder that things can end more suddenly than expected. (It was just a sprain, fortunately, and her team swept the doubleheader.)

It’s suddenly semester’s end today. We wrap up CoPhi with questions about the future of life and intelligence (the AI debate between Turing and Searle) and, prompted by Peter Singer, what we all owe one another.

In Atheism, Russell’s last words both affirm and swipe at American philosophy, disputing de Tocqueville’s judgment that Americans are the least philosophical of peoples but also repudiating the pragmatic suggestion that truth has anything essential to do with utility. Then, a look at how Russell’s heir Hitchens handled his own sudden end.

In Bioethics, Atul Gawande’s touching farewell to his father reminds me of one of my last hard but healing conversations with mine, and of something else William James said as his own time grew short in the summer of 1910.

…youth’s a stuff that won’t endure, in any one, and to have had it, as you and I have had it, is a good deal gained anyhow, while to see the daylight still under any conditions is perhaps also better than nothing, and meanwhile the good months are sure to bring the final relief after which, “when you and I behind the veil are passed, Oh, but the long, long time the world shall last.”

Gloomy perhaps, but as Sam Scheffler says, the collective afterlife on this side of the veil gives us all a lot to live for. Like Lou Gehrig, we’re lucky – the luckiest – to have seen and felt the daylight at all. Life goes on, nothing is concluded.

And my lifelong learning Happiness class begins on Monday. It almost never ends.

5:30/6:01, 63/89/62

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