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03/17/2014

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Miles Rind

Thanks for the reminiscences, Eric. To my present regret, I never even tried to maintain any sort of correspondence with Ted. For some reason, I imagined that our conversation could only be continued *viva voce*, and consequently have only my highly defective memory on which to draw. But the communication that you quote reminds me that Ted could sound unmistakably like himself even in written words.

I have to say, though, that I do not think that Ted would be pleased to see Wittgenstein named as a leading philosophical influence on him. Wittgenstein to him exemplified too much of Germanic obscurantism and self-importance: the influence of the work of J. L. Austin was far stronger. Of course, both Austin and Wittgenstein can be said to have influenced him through the medium of Stanley Cavell, but that influence is itself of a rather indirect and elusive nature, however direct the historical relationship between the two. Cavell was Cohen's dissertation supervisor at Harvard, but, on my understanding of their history (which may be faulty), Ted had already left Harvard to take up his position at Chicago without a dissertation when Cavell joined the faculty at Harvard and became his supervisor. If I have not mistaken my facts, what affinity can be observed between the work of the one and of the other owes more to their having been drawn together by common interests and aspirations than to the influence of teacher upon pupil. As I place Ted in philosophy's history, the two figures contending most strongly for his allegiance were Hume and Kant. He certainly *liked* Hume's way of thinking immeasurably better than he liked Kant's, but I think that he grudgingly recognized Kant as having surpassed Hume in asking the right questions.

Of course, I could not possibly have said such a thing in public with much confidence while Ted was still alive to contradict me; and yet, I am not sure that he would have done so. He might merely have raised some contrary consideration and then added, "But what do I know?"

Eric Schliesser

Miles, thank you for adding the point about Kant, and insisting on the indirect and elusive connections; I agree that I should have mentioned Austin.

kurt mosser

thanks, miles. i guess i would add that whatever one said to ted needed to be said "with confidence" (feigned or otherwise).

he and i got into some raging arguments when i worked at the quadrangle club, and we disagreed profoundly about the really crucial things, such as baseball. but he made me a better (a relative term, that) philosopher by forcing me to articulate and defend views instead of using fancy words and dropping names,hoping i'd get away with it. which is a technique that works all too often in our profession.

Jackie Taylor

Thanks, Eric. I'd like to add two observations about Ted's humanity.

I never took a class with him, but he joined my diss. committee. At our first meeting, he was running late; he came out and gave me a few dollars and asked me to go and buy coffees for us. I was none too pleased with this (having done pink collar work, and resisting making coffee for the guys, for a number of years before being able to go to college). So I left the money in an envelope with a note saying I couldn't stay. After that, Ted asked me to facilitate a philosophy club, with me as grad mentor, and with women undergrads taking the initiative to form and lead the club. It was a sea change for the department at Chicago.

Another time, when my parents visited Chicago, he invited them to lunch at the Quad Club. My parents, who did not have an opportunity to attend college, were struck with Ted's down to earth conversation over lunch. They have always remembered him. To my surprise, when I saw Ted a few years ago at an ASA meeting, he too remembered that lunch. What some might describe as kindness on Ted's part, I would describe as his inherent interest in people -- in their backgrounds, and their views on life.

I am glad to have known him.

Marian Keane

Long, long time ago (1978), I was Ted's TA, for a summer session at Harvard. It was actually two (short) summer semesters, and I worked my fool head off. I was a film-person, with no degree in Philosophy; only a B.A. in English and Fine Art and an M.A. in Film (NYU), which means nada to philosophers. But Ted was different. He was the kindest professor--when we were grading, he said to students, "You've lucked out. I know the material, and she is very kind. And we agree on everything." Ted and I always got along. He spent hours before and after class teaching me philosophy, and I remember his teaching strategies well. Every time we met, we had wonderful talks--tutorials, in philosophy. No one could tamp down his mind, or his energy. So quick! And that quick nasal voice! I can hear it now. I lucked out: He knew the material (Intro to Philosophy and a seminar on Kant), and . . . I learned it--always kindly--from him.

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