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Monday, April 18, 2005

The Late Richard Popkin

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Professor Popkin died last Thursday at the age of 81.  He was head of the philosopy department at UCSD at the time I was a philosophy undergrad.  His classes were always small (12 - 15 students at most).  He would come in each day, set up his recorder, and begin to lecture.  We understood that his talk and our questions and discussion would be the material for his next book.  He made us feel involved in the historical process.  He had the ability to make a recondite philosophical argument transparent and accessible.  He overlaid all discussion with a ribald humor mixed with gossipy anecdotes about the private lives of the 'Great Men'.  I enjoyed his classes tremendously and continue, to the present, to consult his works whenever a recondite philosophical question comes my way.  I still have my old 1960 edition of 'The History of Scepticism From Erasmus To Descartes', which, upon closer scrutiny, i apparently checked out of the philosophy department library in 1969 and neglected to return.

1 Comments:

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I remember the bushy eyebrows that were endemic to the
great philosophers there, the soiree with Herbert Marcuse, the lecture on Vitamin C by Linus Pauling, shaking hands with B.B.King, the ninth floor of Tioga Hall, the first floor of Tenaya Hall, coffee hut, my great literature classes and the lecture on Madame Bovary, Manny Farber and the new art of cinema and autour,
Duncan, ALGOL, classical Greek, pineapple-upside down-cake and lobsters from Mayfair, 2:00 a.m., throwing knives, and of course, Charlie.

Are you having as good a time now?

 

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