Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON
LECTURE ONE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d__In2PQS60
LECTURE TWO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al7O2puvdDA

ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ONE THROUGH TEN ON IDEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE



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Friday, September 13, 2013

IN MEMORIAM


I received sad news today.  Owen De Long, my Junior year philosophy tutee at Harvard in 1959-60, has passed away in distressing circumstances.  Owen was, as I recall him from that time, a bright, handsome young man.  His most notable accomplishment, in the eyes of many of us, was winning the heart of a brilliant, luminous Radcliffe undergraduate, Jane Mansbridge, whose father, as I recall, headed up the American division of Cambridge University Press.  Jane has gone on to become a widely read and much acclaimed political theorist who teaches now, with her husband, sociologist Christopher Jencks, at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

That was a remarkable little tutorial group.  There were five Junior year philosophy majors in all, four men and one woman.  My favorite was a tall, lanky man with a shock of red hair, Tom Cathcart.  Tom and I reconnected in New York some years ago when I went there to give a talk at a small gathering of African-American philosophers.  He has since made quite a stir with a little book he and Dan Klein wrote called Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar, an exposition of the main fields of philosophy through jokes.  Tom has just published The Trolley Problem, which I am proud to say carries a praising blurb by me.  Tom is still tall, lanky, and irrepressibly cheerful, but like many of us, he has lost most of his hair.  Quite the most forgettable member of the tutorial group was David, a small, thin, very smart young man who wrote a lovely final paper on Clarence Irving Lewis' important -- but now all but forgotten -- book, Mind and the World Order.  The next year, I wrote a letter for David that helped him to win a Rhodes Scholarship.  David grew up to become Supreme Court Associate Justice David Souter.  I have totally lost touch with the other two members of the group, Michael David Levin and Catherine Cooper, and Google has been unable to tell me what became of them.  Inasmuch as the group met fifty-four years ago, I am compelled to infer that they are all in their seventies now, but to me they will always be bright, promising undergraduates.

5 comments:

Jim Westrich said...

I do not know any of these people (heard of Suter!) but this person is "David Michael" Levin, is a philosopher, and graduated from Harvard in 1961.

http://www.amazon.com/David-Michael-Kleinberg-Levin/e/B001IXMD3K

http://www.philosophy.northwestern.edu/people/faculty/kleinberg-levin.html

Jim Westrich said...

Meant Souter above. Apologies.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Wow! Thank you. What a little group that was. Fantastic.

Unknown said...

Bob, How did you hear of Owen's death? I can't find anything on Google. As you probably know, Owen had an interesting career. He was involved for several years in the late '60s with Mel Lyman's Avatar community on Fort Hill in Roxbury and figures prominently in the long, strange saga of that group, reported at great length in Rolling Stone in 1971 (available on Google under "Mel Lyman"). I bumped into him a cafe in Woodstock in the '60s but hadn't seen him since. His recent class reports have sounded more ordinary than his '60s life (aren't we all?). I'd be glad to have any information about him.

Daniel Klein said...

Although undoubtedly the least talented philosopher of that fabulous group, I still feel honored to be among them and to have had Robert Wolff as my tutor. And, yes, I still have my copy of 'Mind and the World Order'on my shelf.

Danny Klein '61