Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Objective Values

The last few months, during travels to San Diego and Washington, DC, I've had occasion to spend some time with friends I haven't seen in a long time, in some cases for a decade or more. And I was a little worried as I went into these encounters that time might have eroded these friendships, or irrevocably changed one or both of us, or in some way covered or altered or made permanently inaccessible whatever was real and unique and good about these relationships. Because (let's face it) that does happen.

In every case I was happy to find that nothing essential had changed, and that it felt like days or weeks since I had last seen each one of the people I'm talking about, instead of years or decades, and in no way was I forced to change my opinion of them (or myself) or my memories. It's a tremendous experience, and gives a feeling of stability and reality to one's own biography.

All of this is just by way of prelude to presenting this link to a video lecture by Robert Kane of the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Kane's course in "Problems of Knowledge and Value" was a key experience for me when I was a young Plan II nerdling at UT, and helped me (as it did many others) make some cautious first steps into becoming a rational, critical thinker. When I came across the video, I was happy, once again, to see that although Dr. Kane is grayer (aren't we all?), he's still thinking about the same issues that came up in class back in 1970, and still lecturing with the same blend of humor and clarity. Some things, thankfully, never change.

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