1. To Ludwig Richter: How fortunate you were to have the opportunity to study with -- as my colleagues called him -- Jimmy Baldwin. When I joined the Afro-American Studies Department at UMass I discovered that my office had once been occupied by Baldwin! I felt that I was walking in the footsteps of giants. My teaching is, I think, a form of gift-giving. It is, though it sounds pretentious to say, an act of love. Incidentally, part of that gift-giving is a showing of myself. It always amused me that in the end-of-semester student evaluation forms that I would receive back after the end of each class, there appeared repeatedly the complaint, "talks too much about his family." It never stopped me.
2. To Tony Couture: Your take on Rawls is radically different from mine, but I would not dream of trying to talk you out of it. You have made out of Rawls the man and his work an entirely different construction from mine. I am not sure how successfully you can appeal to it to make clear passages or arguments that are otherwise mysterious -- which is always my test for myself when I am evaluating my own interpretation of a difficult text. But then, you may have a quite different measure of success. I think I can spot an interpretation of a text that is just flat out wrong, but with any powerful text, there can be many alternative readings. That is one reason why we keep reading Plato rather than simply accepting Aristotle's view of the man and his philosophy [after all, who in the history of philosophy would be better suited to judge!]
3. To Jerry Fresia: My judgments are disinterested at least in this sense -- I care very much that my students see the ideas in their clarity, purity, rigor, and thus beauty, but not at all that they embrace the conclusions of the arguments that constitute those ideas and believe their theses. My goal in this course coming up is most certainly not to make the students Marxists, but to lead them to grasp the complex understanding I arrived at in what I call my "vision."