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.