In an earlier post I mentioned that I would soon be publishing an article in the New York Times. Well, it went up on the website on Sunday evening, and it can still be found here. It is called “Navigating Past Nihilism”. For those interested in the themes of this blog, I hope you will find it interesting.
I have to say in all honesty that I am truly overwhelmed and heartened by the reaction that the column provoked. It was among the most e-mailed articles in the paper for over two full days, and in addition to the hundreds of comments posted at the New York Times website itself, I personally received dozens and dozens of e-mails from thoughtful folks either agreeing or disagreeing with me. I regret that I will not be able to answer most of these e-mails, or respond to most of these comments. But I want to thank each of you for thinking seriously about the issues and for taking the time to respond.
I would also like to thank the New York Times for hosting their Philosophy column, The Stone. I gather from various people that the column is slated to end sometime before Christmas, but that the Times will consider reviving it sometime after the New Year. If you believe, as I do, that it is a good thing for the paper of record to support first-rate philosophical discussions, please send an e-mail to that effect to email@example.com, and include STONE in the subject line.
About Sean D. Kelly
Sean Dorrance Kelly is the Teresa G. and Ferdinand F. Martignetti Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. He is also Faculty Dean at Dunster House, one of the twelve undergraduate Houses at Harvard. He served for six years as chair of Harvard's Department of Philosophy.
Kelly earned an Sc.B. in Mathematics and Computer Science and an M.S. in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Brown University in 1989. After three years as a Ph.D. student in Logic and Methodology of Science, he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998.
Before arriving at Harvard in 2006, Kelly taught at Stanford and Princeton, and he was a Visiting Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.
Sean Kelly's work focuses on various aspects of the philosophical, phenomenological, and cognitive neuroscientific nature of human experience. He is a world authority on 20th century European Philosophy, specializing in the work of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. He has also done influential work in philosophy of mind and philosophy of perception.
Kelly has published articles in numerous journals and anthologies and he has received fellowships or awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEH, the NSF and the James S. McDonnell Foundation, among others.
Fun fact: He appeared on The Colbert Show in 2011 to talk about All Things Shining.
Sean Kelly lives at Dunster House with his wife, the Harvard Philosopher Cheryl Kelly Chen, and their two boys, Benjamin and Nathaniel.
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your article was well done and I’m glad that is was well received but I agree with Brian Leiter that over all the only thing worse than the columns has been the replies,
I don’t know how St. Fish keeps at it.
It hasn’t been supporting first-rate philosophical discussion, except sporadically. My own view is philosophy is better off not having the kind of exposure that it has mostly gotten from the Times. But I understand, of course, from the poll I conducted that the majority is more optimistic that this could be done right.
Is there any decent online philosophy discussion or forum? I’ve struggled to find viable options. Thanks for any suggestions.
Hi Sean…a thought-provoking column. If you haven’t already read it, I recommend Arthur Koestler’s neglected 1950 novel, The Age of Longing, which deals with some of these issues thru a story about an American woman living in Paris, a lapsed Catholic, who falls hard for a very committed Russian Communist. My review is here: Sleeping with the enemy.
…You suggest Melville in Moby Dick offering a light out of the darkness. I thought of Therese of Liseaux in Story of a Soul. Her mantra, “Do the ordinary things extraordinarily well,” would seem to capture the longing to find the transcendent in the everyday. Though I concur with James Carroll and others that we are better off out of the grip of theocracies, I see in the Lives of the Saints—and those beyond canonical approbation—that diversity of meaning-filled living that enriches and enhances our understanding of the transcendent. Robert Ellsberg’s book, All Saints, expresses such in his daily biographies of men and women of every mode and manner who seem to have embraced the Divine.