Friday, August 17, 2012
I was deeply saddened to learn, just a few moments ago via Brian Leiter's blog, that Hugo Bedau had passed away at the age of 85. Hugo was an old, old friend -- in 1953, when as a senior at Harvard I took C. I. Lewis' great course on THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON, Hugo was the graduate assistant who graded my Kant Summaries. I still have those summaries, with his marginal notes and corrections. Hugo was a dear, sweet, incredibly decent and morally admirable man who devoted his professional life to a number of important issues in applied ethics. On my bookshelf here in Chapel Hill is perhaps his most important work, THE DEATH PENALTY IN AMERICA, along with several other books that he wrote or edited. Five years ago, Susie and I attended a delightful eightieth birthday party for Hugo at which each of us was called on to rise and say something personal and particular about our relationship to him. The range of remembrances, and the warmth of the testimony, said a great deal about his qualities as a man. I suppose eighty-five seems like a ripe old age to my younger readers, but it is only seven years away for me. Let us hope that when I too pass from the scene, I will leave a fraction of the many fond memories and admiring mourners that Hugo leaves today.