It has been a grand eightieth birthday, and I want to thank all of you who sent birthday greetings and wishes -- Marinus Ferreira, Jerry Fresia, Tim, GT Christie, Chris, Nick, Turkle, Lounger, Levinebar, Matt, Chris [a different one, I am pretty sure], Magpie, and my old student Andrew Lionel Blais. Thank you also to the many folks who sent me emails and even e-cards, to whom I have responded by email.
My mind has been so taken up with the impending birthday that I have neglected to ask what I will concentrate on once the day is passed, as it now is. My walk this morning was devoted to thinking about that question, and later today [after I have gone to the local Time Warner Cable office to correct some obscure problem with my cable box] I shall try to put my thoughts in order.
This blog has become a grand endless seminar, with participants entering and leaving at will and returning yet again, a Symposium [without the sex, of course]. I think of it as continuous with my fifty years of active university teaching, a way to pass on what was passed on to me by Harry Austryn Wolfson and Willard van Orman Quine and Clarence Irving Lewis and Sam Beer and Raphael Demos and all my other teachers sixty years ago and more.
In the greatest statement ever penned of the conservative sensibility, Edmund Burke described the state as "a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born." I may reject Burke's celebration of the state, but I embrace his conception of the relationship each of us has to what has gone before and what is yet to come. When I take a student through the exercise of writing a page a day of her doctoral dissertation, I still can see in my mind's eye the gentle rebuke that C. I. Lewis penned in the margin of the paper I wrote for him on Hume sixty two years ago: "I would hope it is not an evidence of that temper in philosophy that can offer the objection to everything and advance the solution to nothing."