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Thursday, September 22, 2022

ANOTHER BITES THE DUST

I just read that Saul Kripke has died at the age of 81.  As I think I have observed on this blog, I knew Saul because he arrived at Harvard in 1959 when I was an Instructor there.  I was supplementing my salary by working as a freshman advisor and one of the students to whom I was assigned was a young man who had come to Harvard from the same Omaha high school as Saul.


Saul actually attended two or three of my lectures on the Critique of Pure Reason the next year before deciding there was nothing in it of interest to him. I have some stories to tell about Saul from those days but I think I have already told them in my autobiography so I will simply note his passing here.

11 comments:

Mike C. said...

Thank you for sharing.
I'm a bit younger but see this in my life now, all too often with those around me from earlier times. Most were older, but always not. Life is truly precious and each day is a gift, but ours is to do with it most wisely. I'm trying.

DJL said...

I wouldn't mind some stories about Kripke. I have searched this site and found a few anecdotes here and there, but I would welcome some more.

Marc Susselman said...

Out of curiosity, I searched on Prof. Wolff’s autobiography for his remembrances of Saul Kripke. Reading the description of the then student Saul Kripke’s behavior, it confirmed how a fellow graduate student in the University of Michigan philosophy department, who had taken a class with Prof. Kripke at Rockefeller U., described his eccentricity.

My search also generated an interesting discussion of the difference between philosophy and science, with the query, how many contemporary philosophical works would still be read 100 years from now? The discussion mentioned C. I. Lewis, and Prof., Wolff’s high regard for him and his work, “Mind And The World Order.” Since I have never read anything by Prof. Lewis (often confused with C.S. Lewis), I decided to see if a copy of the book was available on Amazon. No copies available. Then I checked Thrift Books. Again, no copies available. So I just Googled the book, and guess what popped up? A hardcover copy of the work available on Ebay, in good condition, for $19.99. I grabbed it, and am looking forward to reading the work of one of the greatest philosophical minds of the 20th century.

(My search also yielded an amusing anecdote about a dispute between Prof. Quine and Prof. Aiken over allowing a graduate student to substitute a preliminary exam on Ethics, for the required preliminary exam on Symbolic Logic. Prof. Quine was opposed to the substitution. Prof. Aiken asked for his justification, to which Prof. Quine responded, “Ethics is easy. Logic is hard.”)

Marc Susselman said...

In perhaps his most influential work, “Naming and Necessity,” Saul Kripke offered a theory regarding the operation of proper names which differed from that offered by Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein. In that work, Kripke also maintained that there were a posteriori factual proposition which were necessarily true. For those interested in his views, but not in reading an entire volume of his writing, you can find his paper titled, “A Puzzle About Belief” on the internet, here:

https://www.uvm.edu/~lderosse/courses/lang/Kripke(1979).pdf

Marc Susselman said...

Post-Script:

Coincidentally, Kripke ends his paper “A Puzzle About Belief” with the legal adage which I used when discussing the Oberlin defamation case some posts back, “Hard cases make bad law.”

John Rapko said...

I have no idea as to what the human beings will be doing in 100 years on their hot, polluted (but hopefully post-capitalist!) planet, other than cataloguing animal and plant extinctions. But on the unlikely hypothesis that they'll be reading any works from 20th century humanities, the only one that seems likely to me (after a minute's reflection) is Claude Lévi-Strauss's Tristes Tropiques, surely one of the greatest of all works of the century, and one that will seem even more resonant; and perhaps reading it while listening to Louis Armstrong's Hot 5 recordings or Pablo Casals performing Bach's Cello Suites.

Marc Susselman said...

John Rapko,

I gather that your area of expertise is philosophy of art, which I assume includes cinema. This week I watched two of the weirdest movies I have ever seen, both written and directed by Kevin Smith, titled “Tusk” and “Red State.” Are you familiar with his work, and if so, do you have an opinion regarding their merit or lack thereof?

John Rapko said...

Marc, I'm sorry to say that I'm not familiar with Smith's work. I'll have to put it on the list. If I were allowed only to include a single film on my 'probably will be viewed with pleasure in 100 years list', it would have to be Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali.

Marc Susselman said...

John

Let me assure you that Kevin Smith's are not in the same category as Satyatjit Ray's works. They are quite bizarre, and have the pretense of social commentary, but I am not sure. The movie at the top of my list is On The Waterfront, since, among other thins, it was made in my home tonw.

David Zimmerman said...

Marc;

You are from Hoboken?

Marc Susselman said...

David,

Yes. I spent my first 9 years there, until my family moved to Jersey City.

For those familiar with the movie, my sister (9 years older than me) knew the teenager who follows Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) around, and, at the end of the movie, when Brando testifies before the Waterfront Commission against the union bosses, kills all of Malloy's passenger pigeons yelling "A pigeon for a pigeon!"

My older brother (5 years) at the age of 12-13 used to go down to the docks with a cart to help unload the freighters, for extra money.

I used to play in the park where Brando talks to Eva Marie Saint about knowing her when they were in grammar school together. "You had braids that hung down like rope." He tells her, "The nuns thought they were going to beat an education into me, but I foxed them."

Hoboken, the home of Frank Sinatra, has become very gentrified since I grew up there.