I received word this morning that an old friend, Páll Skúlason, passed away last Wednesday. I met Páll through our shared interest in the philosophy of education. He was an Icelandic philosopher who served for eight years as the Rector of the University of Iceland. Susie and I first met Páll and his wife, Auður Birgisdóttir in Paris, and later traveled to Metz to visit them at the home in which they spent a good deal of time. Later still, we visited them Iceland, and on one occasion Páll arranged for me to give a talk to the Philosophy Department at the University of Iceland [I spoke about Kant's ethical theory.]
Páll was a tall, open, extremely friendly man with a deep interest in the developments taking place in European higher education. He and I shared our distress at the corporatization of modern universities, and at one point, before Iceland's economic meltdown, even talked about forming a Center for the study of higher education. He and his wife were unfailing gracious, warm, and welcoming to Susie and me, and I looked forward with great anticipation to our meetings.
I have formed very few friendships in the larger academic world outside the university in which I happened to be teaching, and my friendship with Páll was very dear to me. He was only sixty -nine when he passed away. I shall miss him.
On June 9, 2007, I posted a meditation on some things Páll told me about trying to do philosophy in Icelandic. As a tribute to him, and because I believe it is of great and lasting importance for how we do philosophy, I shall repost it today following this memorial note.