"Je Maintiendrai"

Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., retired from the Department of Philosophy, Los Angeles Valley College, Van Nuys, California 91401-4096, DrKelley at

My family has been a part of the history of Southern California ever since my great uncle, R.L. "Les" Kelley, began selling Model T Fords in 1918. Later his business grew into the largest car dealership in the world. Les Kelley Ford and the Kelley Kar Company [sic] occupied most of the block at Pico and Figueroa, where the Los Angeles Convention Center now stands.

Les's practice of supplying information on used car prices grew into the Kelley Blue Book. For many years the Blue Book was edited by my father, also named Kelley L. Ross, until his death in 1980. The Blue Book was long managed by my cousins in the Kelley family.

"Yes," he answered, "there are in me the makings of a very fine loafer, and also of a pretty spry sort of a fellow."

Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four [Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1890]

I am a VAL, I know

Moon Zappa, "Valley Girl," Frank Zappa, 1982

I take this [i.e. arguments about Leonard Nelson] to be extremely important. But it is almost as important to have received a letter from a man who takes philosophy (or anything) seriously. I thought the breed had died out.

Sir Karl Popper, personal letter to K.L. Ross, 12 December 1992

Tzu-lu spent the night at the Stone Gate. The gate-keeper said, "Who have you come from?" Tzu-lu said, "From the K'ung family."
The keeper said, "He's the one who knows it's no use, but keeps on doing it; is that not so?"

Confucius, Analects XIV:41/38, translation after James Legge [1893], Arthur Waley [1938], and D.C. Lau [1979]

I am glad to see that the UT philosophy department
turns out sane Ph. D.s.

Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate in Physics (1979), e-mail to K.L. Ross,
18 September 1998

The Master said, "He is not concerned that he is not known;
he seeks to be worthy of being known."

Confucius, Analects IV:14, translation after James Legge [1893], Arthur Waley [1938], D.C. Lau [1979], and Joanna C. Lee [2010]

I have often said, and oftener think,
that this world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel --
a solution of why Democritus laughed and Heraclitus wept.

Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Oxford (1717-1797),
letter to Sir Horace Mann, 31 December 1769

My name is "Kelley," like the color,
but not spelled the same.

In memory of Michael Clarke Duncan (1957-2012),
as John Coffey, The Green Mile [1999], cf. Kelly Green.

λέγων· ὅτι πάροικός εἰμι ἐν γῇ ἀλλοτρίᾳ.
dicens, advena fui in terra aliena.
[Moses] said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

Exodus 2:22

»Bäumchen, rüttel dich und schüttel dich,
wirf Gold und Silber über mich.«

“Shiver and quiver, little tree,
Silver and Gold throw down over me.”

"Aschenputtel," Grimms Märchen, Anaconda Verlag, 2015, 2023, p.130; "Cinderella," Grimm's Fairy Tales, translated by Margaret Hunt, FP Classics, Prakash Books India, Pvt. Ltd., 2023, p.105; Cinderella calls on the birds over her mother's grave to help her. They do. No "Fairy God Mother" here.

Ἡ Ῥωμανία πῶς σοι φαίνεται;
Στήκει ὡς τὸ ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆςἠλαττώθη;

How does Romania look to you?
Does it stand as from the beginning or has it been diminished?

Doctrina Jacobi nuper baptizati (634 AD), A.H.M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284-602 [The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986, p. 316, translation modified], Greek text, "Doctrina Jacobi Nuper Baptizati," Édition et traduction par Vincent Déroche, Travaux et Mémoires, 11 [Collège de France Centre de Recherche d'Histoire et Civlisation de Byzance, De Boccard, Paris, 1991, p.167], color added; see here


Born:  the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, in Hollywood, California

Ulysses S. Grant High School, Van Nuys, California, 1964-1967

The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1967-68

The University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, 1968-71; B.A. Magnâ cum Laude in an Individual Field (Classical and Middle Eastern History, Languages, and Philosophy), June 1971; Phi Beta Kappa

The American University of Beirut, Lebanon, on The University of California Education Abroad Program (EAP), 1969-70

The University of Hawaii at Mânoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1972-74; National Defense Education Act (NDEA) Fellow, 1972-74; M.A. in Philosophy, May 1974

Part-Time Lecturer, Chaminade College (now University) of Honolulu, 3140 Waialae Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii 96816, 1974-75; extension classes at:

On the Beach in Hawai'i, 1973

The University of Texas, Austin, Texas, 1975-85; Ph.D. in Philosophy, May 1985; Dissertation: The Origin of Value in a Transcendent Function; Adviser: Dr. G. Douglas Browning (1929-2023), Department of Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin

10th High School Reunion, 1977; first viewing of Star Wars

"Violence, Non-Violence, and Progress in History", Colloquy Discussion, December 7, 1979, Department of Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin.

Part-Time Lecturer, San Antonio College, 1300 San Pedro, San Antonio, Texas 78284, 1982

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita...

Dante Alighieri, Inferno I:1
["Midway in the way of our life..."]

"Non-Intuitive Immediate Knowledge," Ratio, Vol. XXIX No. 2, Basil Blackwell, December 1987.

"Nicht-intuitive (sic) unmittelbare Erkenntnis," Ratio (German edition), 1987 -- 29. Band, Heft 2, Felix Meiner Verlag Hamburg.

Full-Time Instructor (tenured), Los Angeles Valley College, 5800 Fulton Ave., Van Nuys, California 91401, 1987-2009, Chairman of the Department of Philosophy, Economics, and Jewish Studies, 2008-2009, now retired

Candidate, 40th California State Assembly District, Libertarian Party, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000

Candidate, 28th California Congressional District, Libertarian Party, 2002, 2004, 2006

Founder, Publisher, & Editor, The Proceedings of the Friesian School, Fourth Series, 1996-present

40th High School Reunion, 2007

"The Roots of Rudolf Otto's Theory of Numinosity in Immanuel Kant, Jakob Fries, and Leonard Nelson," in the Philosophy of Religion section of The Southern California Philosophy Conference at the University of California, Irvine, Saturday, October 26, 1996.

"Philosophy's Friesian Alternative," presented in conjunction with the Student Philosophy Association & Associated Students, Inc. of California State University, Long Beach, organized by Russell Daley and Erik Baldwin, Tuesday, November 9, 1999.

Surgery for detached retina, February 2002, by Thomas G. Chu, M.D. Ph.D., St. Vincent Medical Center, 2131 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, California, 90057 (hospital closed, January 24, 2020).

A Lecture on the Good, Oxford University,
March 25, 2010

"A Lecture on the Good," delivered to the Oxford Round Table session, "Perspectives on Ethical Sentiments," at Hertford College of Oxford University on March 25, 2010.

"The Scientific Revolution in Mediaeval Physics:  John Philoponus and the Rejection of Aristotelian Science," Philosophy Lecture Series, Los Angeles Valley College, April 17, 2012

"The Epistemology of F.A. Hayek," Colloquium Series, Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, The University of Arizona, September 11, 2012

"Machiavelli and Moral Philosophy," Philosophy Lecture Series, The Great Texts, Los Angeles Valley College, March 19, 2013

"The Origin of the Gold Standard and Its Effect on American Currency and Politics," Los Angeles Paper Money Club, May 8, 2013

Philosophy 308; Early Modern Philosophy; Hume, Kant, and the 18th Century; Rutgers University, Department of Philosophy, Spring 2017

"Richard Burton and the Sword," Third International Sir Richard F. Burton Conference, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, Saturday 19th October 2019.

As follows are Zoom talks that were given by Kelley Ross, while a lot of people were isolated by Covid restrictions. They were sponsored by Albert Natian and Kala Iyer, from the Los Angeles Valley College Department of Mathematics. Unfortunately, the talks were not recorded, but all of the relevant material is available at The Proceedings of the Friesian School. I would be happy to give any of these talks all over again in person anywhere in the area from Philadelphia to New York City. I almost got a gig to give one at Rutgers, where I taught a class in 2017, but it fell through. I'm not holding my breath for other invitations:

  1. Zoom talk on "The Fall of Rome," 7:00 PM (PDT), Saturday, August 1, 2020. Abstract: If you lived in Rome in the year 476, the whole year might pass without you noticing anything unusual.  If you asked anyone in the Mediterranean world after 476 passed what they thought of the “Fall" of Rome, they would wonder what you were talking about.  What actually happened in 476?  What does it mean? See here.

  2. Zoom talk on "Kant's Geometry," 7:00 PM (PDT), Saturday, Aug 15, 2020. Abstract: The conventional wisdom is that Immanuel Kant’s theory of the foundations of geometry is wrong, as refuted by the very existence of non-Euclidean geometry. However, most of what's said about Kant’s theory is mistaken. Many philosophers and science writers betray a lack of understanding of certain key terms of Kantian philosophy. I hope to clarify the issues involved and refute the conventional wisdom. See here.

  3. Zoom talk on "John Philoponus vs. Aristotle," 7:00 PM (PDT), Saturday, Sep 19, 2020. Abstract: Who do you think was the first person to experiment by dropping weights and to show that Aristotle's physics was wrong? No, it was not Galileo. John Philoponus had already done it, almost ten centuries before. Why even informed people do not know this puts much of the history and philosophy of science in a harsh and critical light. See here.

  4. Zoom talk on "Freedom of Speech," 7:00 PM (PDT), Saturday, Oct 3, 2020. Abstract: Freedom of speech is under attack.  People get fired for saying, “All lives matter.”  But free speech is a Constitutional right.  Is it also a Natural right, with which we are “endowed by our Creator”?  And if so, what is its rational basis?  What is the basis of attacks on free speech?  What can the government force you to confess as true against your will? See here.

  5. Zoom talk on "The English Varangians," 7:00 PM (PDT), Saturday, Oct 17, 2020. Abstract: In 1066, William of Normandy conquered England.  The English were treated as a subjugated people, and the entire English nobility was dispossessed, with many killed.  Thousands fled, in hundreds of ships.  Many reached Constantinople, where they were granted land as Nova Anglia, “New England,” and Englishmen began joining the elite Varangian Guard of the Roman Army.  Incredibly, they were soon followed by Norman nobility, who continued joining the Guard for the next three hundred years.  But this epic story is all but missing from conventional history. The "English Varangians" were "written out of history." See here.

Quadruple Coronary Bypass Surgery, December 25, 2021, by Yoshiya Toyoda, M.D. Ph.D., Temple University Hospital, 3401 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19140

[Joe] Leaphorn needed something interesting. He'd soon be finishing his first year of retirement from the Navajo Tribal Police. He'd long since run out of things to do. He was bored.

Tony Hillerman, The First Eagle, 1989, HarperPaperbacks, 1999, p.27, cf. New Mexico

l'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle.

Dante Alighieri, Paradiso XXXIII:145
["The love that moves the sun and the other stars."]

Married, June 22, 1991, on the Triple Conjunction of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter (not to mention the asteroids Terpsichore and Parthenope), to Jacqueline I. Stone, Ph.D., Department of Religion, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544-1006

Autobiographical statements:
Long Drives
  • 2009-2010-2012,

    Drive Friendly

    on Leonard Nelson

    on Egypt

    on Nudism

    on Religion


    The 50's


    Meeting Robert Easton


    New Year's Hawai'i, 1975

  • Travels while living
    in Beirut,
  • After Beirut,
     to London

    Lee Ross

    on Hollywood

    The East-West
    Center Cafeteria

    Ch'uwa Yacu Bolivia



    The Toluca Lake
    Tick Tock

  • the Socrate Soda Fountain

    Edwards Air Force Base

    on Libertarianism

    The Whole Foods Flood

    The Five Flags

    The Shadows

    Blue Hawai'i

    How I Became a Gun Nut

    Elia Kazan's Oscar


    Gladys from Latvia

  • My TR3-

    The Grand
    Duchy of Baden

    Yes, I inhaled

    Visiting the

    Waterline Models

    Ma Vie Sexuelle

    Little Lake

    Message T-Shirts

  • Jeffie Lorraine Ventling, a daughter of my first cousin, Linda Ventling, was Miss Wyoming, 1997, and a participant in the 1997 Miss America Pageant. She was not among the finalists, but she did get to introduce herself on national television.

    Personal statements:
    The Curse of the Friesian School

    The Kind of Libertarian I Am

    Why I am a Platonist

    Why I am not a Christian

    Why I am not a Consevative


    Talk Dirty to Me

    I am a Union Man

    Postumus Friesianorum


    Human Breasts

    Sir Richard Burton

    Reflections on Fencing


    Conic Sections

    The Pink Lady of Malibu Canyon

    Lee Child's Las Vegas

    Claire North's Los Angeles

    Karen Mulder

    Gwen Stefani

    Desert and Forest

    Judge Dee


    Sam Houston

    Trinity Site


    The Bricks of London

    Hotel Room Reading Lights

    Food, Eating, Cooking, & Recipes

    the Grand Army of the Republic Highway

    In Memoriam
    There are many people I might memorialize in these pages, but I limit this category to people I knew, after a fashion, personally. Some of these were personal friends, like Lynn Burson, Frank Lambert, O.L. Harvey, and Jeannine O'Brien. These were not people known to a general public.
    Lynn Burson

    Marty Ehrlich

    O.L. Harvey

    Dorris Jenkins

    Jorge Arrendondo

    Frank Lambert

    Irwin C. Lieb

    Jerrold Katz

    Douglas Browning

    Paul Branton

    C. Edgar Goyette

    Roy Beaumont

    Roy Rathburn

    Jeannine O'Brien Parvati Baker
    Another was a relative, Marty Ehrlich, who was my father-in-law. He was not known to a general public either, but his life was one of connections with notable historical importance, and in more than one respect. Thus, he had personal recollections of Enrico Fermi, Guadalcanal, and submarines in World War II, a perhaps unusual combination.

    Then there were people in philosophy I knew personally, namely Irwin C. Lieb and Jerrold Katz. Lieb I knew in the course of graduate school. Katz I sought out because of his book, and he seemed gratified that I was as enthusiastic about his work as I was. Edgar Goyette was in philosophy also, but of all the people here he is the only one I did never know nor meet. He had died before the likelihood of our meeting or contact would ever have arisen. But Goyette was involved in the Friesian School, which in the United States was rare to vanishing. And I did meet his son, and now have Goyette's books, making me, I suppose, a sort of heir. Also, because of where he lived, in Flagstaff, Arizona, I passed tantalizingly close to him more than once, with sad irony not knowing he was there.

    Paul Branton, who was himself intimately involved with the post-War Friesian School, I did meet once and would have liked to have known a lot better; but that would have taken the money, and then the leisure, that I did not have at the time to travel to England.

    While O.L. Harvey I knew (by mail) but never met, Roy Beaumont I met, once, but didn't know. As with Goyette, Beaumont is a special case, where his association with Valley College made his connection to me both personally and professionally important. Teaching at Valley and knowing many people who knew him well, and might on occasion relate new stories, made him hard to forget. He was also a classic character, something I am sure not many people would say of me.

    The link for Dorris Jenkins goes to the dedication of my Doctoral Dissertation. This was another untimely death, but I knew Mrs. Jenkins pretty well, after taking classes with her for two semesters in high school. The second class was for the debate team. Because of this, I saw a good bit of Mrs. Jenkins outside of class, when we went to debate meets, which were at different venues around the Los Angeles Basin, including at the Los Angeles County Courthouse, in downtown LA. All that involved bus trips of some length. Later, I would return to the same County Courthouse on memorable occasions of jury duty.

    Mrs. Jenkins died suddenly during that semester. There was no warning about this. She seemed in vigorous and excellent health. My dissertation is dedicated to her because she had an ambition, which was for one of her students to become a philosopher -- where only a Ph.D in philosophy would meet her goal. I never heard that anyone else from her classes obtained that degree, so I am afraid that, for her philosopher, she is stuck with me.

    The next memoriam is a little different. Roy Rathburn was my brother-in-law. He died of a drug overdose in May 1975, towards the end of his Freshman year at the University of Puget Sound.
    Roy Rathburn
    He was a very bright kid, friendly and personable. I don't remember hearing from him a harsh word about anyone or anything. I never understood why he got so involved with drugs. He did not seem unhappy or in need of escape while I knew him, and in the summer of 1974 my wife and I had lived with him at his parents' house. So we saw him every day. When he left for college, he gave us his car, a Volkwagen Squareback, which I drove out to my teaching gigs in 1974/1975. Living in Hawai'i, I didn't even own any shoes at the time and needed to buy some for Roy's funeral.

    The photo at right is Roy at his high school graduation in 1974 (with my wife behind him). This was from the Punahou School, which both my wife and Barack Obama also attended. Punahou (the "New Spring") was the prep school in Honolulu founded by the local Haole establishment so that their children were ready to go to Yale, rather than to some lesser school, like, well, the University of Hawai'i. So both Roy and my wife graduated from high school ready for admission to any American university, and both naturally spoke the Walter Chronkite English that would fit in anywhere. Roy, however, had a skill my wife didn't, which was that he could speak the local Hawaiian dialect ("da kine") of English easily and at will. That meant he could fit in anywhere in Hawai'i as well as at any American university.

    I never understood why he went to the University of Puget Sound. If he wanted to get away from home, he could have gone a lot of places; and I'm afraid that the gloomy weather of Washington State may not have helped his mood, however that may have been going. It was a curious coincidence that the high school teacher who had gotten me interested in philosophy, Frank Cousens, had ended up teaching there. I don't think I ever mentioned that to Roy, so I don't think I had anything to do with his going to that school; and it ended up I never was able to get in touch with Cousens the whole time he taught there, which was the rest of his career.

    I think that Roy's death, which now was 45 years ago, opened some wounds that I don't think ever really healed. Now this reminds me of the great movie Ordinary People [1980], which I saw several times after it opened, and which was also about the personal and psychological fallout from the death of a son. Mary Tyler Moore (1936-2017) showed her strength as a actress in the portrayal of a mother who couldn't cope and had difficulty maintaining her relationship both with her husband and with her surviving son. As it happened, my mother-in-law, Elizabeth, was not like that. From my own attention in the aftermath of Roy's death, we became close; and I was in regular touch with her the rest of her life. Oddly enough, when I visited Hawai'i with my second wife in 1988, 2007, and 2011, we had dinner with the family each time. Elizabeth was a delightful person.

    Now, I am afraid, most of the people of the older generation I knew in the Rathburn family have passed away, as have corresponding members of my own family. It is a melancholy business. At right, in 1974, we see Roy with his parents and his grandmother, Lilia, who my wife and I lived with for a couple of years. Lilia was a native speaker of Hawaiian and was already a young woman while Queen Lili'uokalani was still alive. Sooner or later, we all follow Roy, whether our deaths be untimely, like his, or not. For all of us, I hope that the promise of our short lives will not thus be completely spent.

    Prospero  The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
         The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
         Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
         And like this insubstantial pageant faded
         Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
         As dreams are made on, and our little life
         Is rounded with a sleep.

    The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, Act 4, Scene 1: 152-158

    The next two names here are special cases. These are people I met but did not personally know. They are here because of their tragic deaths shortly after I met them. The first was a philosophy professor whose class I took at UCLA in the Spring of 1971. This was Arnold Kaufman (1927-1971),
    Arnold Saul Kaufman

    Tommie Douglas "Doug" Benefield

    who was a visiting professor at UCLA from the University of Michigan. When the class ended, he was flying home to Michigan. However, on June 6, 1971, his plane, Airwest Flight 706, was in a midair collision with an F-4 military jet, not long after takeoff, over the San Bernardino Mountains. All souls were lost.

    This was shocking and disturbing. To have been seeing someone several days a week for an academic term and then have them suddenly killed. The very idea, however little I knew professor Kaufman, was unsettling. I can't say that he or his class made much of an impression on me. It was on 19th century philosophy, but the only thing I remember him talking about, or me reading about, was John Stuart Mill. That didn't mean much to me at the time, although it would mean a lot later. I can't say that Kaufman said anything that made it seem particularly accessible, or put it in a larger context of liberal thought (elsewhere, I note my experience of how John Locke was ignored at UCLA and at other schools familiar to me) -- although I had some sense of Mill's importance, which stuck with me. Obviously I remember that. Now I see that Kaufman was a political radical, involved with the anti-Vietnam War movement and participating in the actual Students for a Democratic Society. Unlike many such professors at the time, he doesn't seem to have brought this up during his classes, at least not so I can remember -- other professors, including one I knew of at Valley Collge, would ignore the regular content of their course and talk about nothing but the War all through the term. From Kaufman's class, I did not have strong feelings about him one way or another. In any case, I had nothing against him, and I don't like seeing a life snuffed out as his was. It is not right.

    The other name, Doug Benefield (1929-1984), is someone I met because my uncle Dan Hendrix (d.2002) was the civilian chief of flight testing for the B-1 bomber at Edwards Air Force Base. Benefield was the chief civilian test pilot. I met him, perhaps only once, when Dan took a number of his family members, including me, on a tour of the Edwards facilities, including the B-1 aircraft they had. I think my cousins knew Benefield pretty well. One of them described him as a "teddy bear." He seemed personable and good humored to me. Unfortunately, testing a B-1, his plane crashed on August 29, 1984. The three man crew ejected, but Benefield, alone, was killed at touchdown.

    This was a bit more of a personal connection than I had with Arnold Kaufman, but its personal character was mainly because he was my uncle's friend and colleague. Since I had met him, not long before his tragic death, this left an unsettling impression, not unlike that with professor Kaufman.

    Much more indirectly, I had another connection with an Edwards test pilot who was tragically killed. This was Iven Kincheloe (1928-1958), who died on July 26, 1958, after ejecting from his Lockheed F-104. This tragedy was referenced by Tom Wolfe in his The Right Stuff [1979]. My only connection to this was that Knicheloe's wife, Dorothy, or "Dottie," ended up working for many years at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, where my mother, who also worked there, knew her pretty well. Unlike now, in 1958 the widow of such a pilot does not seem to have been showered with money. My mother always said that Lockheed tried to make it up to her with her job. I never met Dottie myself. As it happened, after my mother retired in 1979, she went on a number of tours in Europe and elsewhere. On her tour to Spain, she happened to run into Dottie, of all people, in her hotel bar. The last time she saw her. If this means that Dottie was enjoying a comfortable retirement, like my mother, that's great.

    וָאֶשְׁמַע אֶת־קֹול אֲדֹנָי אֹמֵך אֶת־מִי אֶשְׁלַח וּמִי יֵלֶךְ־לָנוּ וָאֹמַר הִנְנִי שְׁלָחֵנִי׃

    καὶ ἤκουσα τῆς φωνῆς Κυρίου λέγοντος· Τίνα ἀποστείλω, καὶ τίς πορεύσεται πρὸς τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον; καὶ εἶπα· Ἰδού ἐγώ εἰμι· ἀπόστειλόν με.

    Et audivi vocem Domini, dicentis, Quem mittam? Et quis ibit nobis? Et dixi, Ecce ego sum, mitte me.

    And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us [LXX: for the people]? And I said, Here am I; send me.

    Isaiah 6:8

    The Curse of the Friesian School

    Untimely deaths unfortunately are characteristic of the Friesian School. While Jakob Fries lived to the age of 69, his principal student, Ernst Apelt (1812-1859), died shockingly young at 47. The School lapsed at that point. Revived by Leonard Nelson (1882-1927), the tradition found in him a tireless worker who laid a firm and extensive foundation, textual and human, for the rebrith of Friesian philosophy.

    However, Nelson then himself died at 45. It was beginning to look like a Curse, even though Fries had nothing to do with Tecumseh.

    Nelson's own principal student, Julius Kraft (1898-1960), while strongly promoting Nelson's work after the War, in both Britain and Germany, and arguing Nelson's cause to his own relative, Karl Popper (1902-1994), ended up dying relatively young at 62. This actually left many of Nelson's students still living, some of whom lived well into the 1970's.

    But none, unlike Kraft, had Nelson's vision; and they came to reject essential features of Friesian philosophy, especially the unique epistemology of non-intuitive immediate knowledge. This left them lamely promoting Nelson as no more than an Analytic philosopher before his time.

    How bad this got we can see in "Significance of Behavior Study for the Critique of Reason" [Ratio, Volume XV, No.2, December 1973, pp. 206-220] by Grete Henry (or Henry-Hermann). Henry had finished the heroic task of posthumously publishing Nelson's collected works, which is a monument to Nelson in its own right. However, the "Significance of Behavior Study" tosses overboard all of Friesian epistemology, and it even seems to reduce Nelson's beloved Socratic Method to a matter of examining behavior. "Behavior"? Do we want people to get the the idea that Friesian epistemology is Behaviorism? Thus, the students of Leonard Nelson who lived the longest did the most damage to the value and appeal of his philosophy.

    This all had little chance of recommending itself to contemporary academic philosophers, who had more than enough Analytic philosophers, and Behaviorism, in all their sterility, on their hands already. As we have seen, one genuine Friesian, C. Edgar Goyette, a well established academic, fell to the Curse at age 55. Popper himself, living to a full old age, and although openly using features of Friesian epistemology, nevertheless badly misconceived and misrepresented the overall theory. This certainly confirmed its dismissal by Nelson's students.

    Thus, while Nelson's pedagogy and politics are preserved by successors in Germany, Julius Kraft's post-War project of establishing Nelson in contemporary academic philosophy really came to naught. This probably would not have surprised Nelson himself. As with Mrs. Jenkins, the ambition of Nelson and Kraft may have scored only one durable philosopher. That would be, again, me. Goyette, dying young, has vanished beneath the waves.

    However, I never fit in well to academic philosophy, have always been a dissident, found my work unpublishable in conventional venues, and thus am as much of an outsider as Schopenhauer was through most of his life. At the age of 72, I have outlived all the significant Friesian philosophers, including Fries himself, and having retired from teaching philosophy for 22 years, the Curse, in one sense, may have passed me by.

    Nevertheless, I have not met a single contemporary academic colleague who was the least interested in the Friesian School, or my work, or who, upon acquaintance, barely took the trouble to give me the time of day. If that. When I gave a "Lecture on the Good" at Oxford, I thought I had even made some friends among the philosophers; but then I never heard from them, or back from them, again.

    This may be a different form of the Curse. It begins to sound more like the Curse of Cassandra,
    Cassandra, 1898, Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919)
    Κασσάνδρα, who spoke the truth but who would not be believed. A like identification has also been made for Socrates. I cannot anticipate that the Zeitgeist might catch up with me, as it did with Schopenhauer.

    Perhaps I was not the right sort of person to take up this task, but then there actually has been no one else; and the things that make me unsuitable or unwelcome to the establishment of academic philosophy are the very things that have prevented Friesian philosophy from receiving the proper hearing and acceptance in the first place. Or, it occurs to me, perhaps they know what they are doing and I don't.

    Then, when I read what academic philosophers write, I realize how bad it is. The apologists for the following philosophers serve rather well to discredit their entire profession, but it is also difficult to take seriously something like the treatment of dilemmas by David Edmonds that I have examined, or recent treatments of philosophy found here under reviews -- the presentation of Wittgenstein by Roger Scruton is particularly painful.

    Meanwhile, the shocking, persistent, and appalling popularity of Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and other representatives of illiberal and often totalitarian ideology, i.e. the deformed stepchildren and descendants of Marxism, not to mention the Nihilism that accompanies popular materialism and atheism, or the blind-alley, self-referential autism of Wittgenstein, serves to falsify almost the whole of 20th and now 21st century philosophy.

    Indeed, there is no philosopher in the public consciousness, who even has the footprint of Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) or Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980), who is not, like those men themselves, of almost no, or of severely limited and flawed, philosophical value -- and in the business of life, both were fools, and sometimes vicious fools. The most conspicuous public philosophers now may be the clueless representatives of the "New Atheism." That some of these are vilified by the political Left when they honestly extend their criticism of religion to ʾIslâm, is another bizarre feature of the incoherent ideology of our times. None of them, however, are genuine, serious, and perspicacious philosophers, and even the best of them as political critics, like Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011), can display embarrassing and discrediting gaps in knowledge of history and philosophy.

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    Copyright (c) 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., Postumus Friesianorum, All Rights Reserved

    Resumé, Note

    "Nicht-intuitive" is a mistranslation. It should have been "nicht-anschauliche." "Intuition" is the standard English translation of "Anschauung"; and "Anschauung" would have been the German translation of "Intuition" for Leibniz and Kant; but "Intuition" and "Anschauung" were used in German by Leonard Nelson to mean two different things. The galleys of the translation were not made available to the author before publication, and this mistake could not be corrected.

    By "Anschauung" Nelson meant the Kantian sense of intuition as perception and as immediate knowledge. This had gotten a bit confused in Kant (because of the complications of the theory of synthesis), but he and the Friesians continued to use the term pretty much in that original sense. On the other hand, when Nelson used "Intuition," he meant the modern philosophical usage of "intuition" as an initial or spontaneous belief. "Intuitions" in that sense may be credible, but they may only be so at the very beginning of investigation. They are always fallible and corrigible. On the other hand, an "Anschauung" is neither fallible nor corrigible and in fact is not even a belief -- since all beliefs are fallible and corrigible.

    The difference between "Anschauung" and "Intuition" is therefore part of a crucial and fundamental distinction for Nelson, who realized that "immediate knowledge" could not as such have a propositional form, i.e. express some predication ("S is P") or combination thereof ("S is P or Q is R"). A similar understanding has been used to dismiss the existence of immediate knowledge pretty much ever since; but Nelson simply inferred from it that only mediate, not immediate knowledge, is expressed propositionally. Immediate knowledge is what justifies synthetic propositions, and is therefore distinct from them. This only works well in a Kantian system where we can simultaneously say that immediate knowledge as experience is undecidably identical to phenomenal objects (Kant's "Empirical Realism"). These issues are covered in the essay "Ontological Undecidability".

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    πάντων ἰατρὸς τῶν ἀναγκαίων κακῶν χρόνος ἐστίν.

    Time is the healer of all evil necessities.

    Menander, Μένανδρος (c.342/41-c.290 BC); Motto on a high school lesson folder of Frank Cousens, i.e. that his time as such a teacher would soon end, as it did.

    On Leonard Nelson

    My interest in Leonard Nelson and the Friesian School goes back to 1967. In high school, an English teacher, Frank Cousens, had introduced philosophy in his course by having us read Plato's Apology of Socrates right in class, a practice I continued every semester in my Introduction to Philosophy classes. Cousens's enthusiasm for knowledge and contempt for pathetic excuses for philosophy like Logical Positivism were formative inspirations for my career in philosophy. My best friend at the time, and neighbor, Lee Herman, who went on to teach for the Empire State College of the State University of New York, was also a classmate in Cousens's class and experienced similar inspiration.

    Cousens was writing a dissertation at the University of Southern California at the time, on William Blake. This involved some research into Immanuel Kant, and so the first I heard about Kant, and the first books on Kant recommended to me, were the result of this. After obtaining his doctorate, Cousens began teaching at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where Lee and I went out and visited him once. Unfortunately, by then Cousens got gotten interested in Hegel, who I already was immediately feeling did not represent the best direction for philosophy. He was also unhappy at Santa Barbara. Soon he found a new position, at the University of Puget Sound, where he spent the rest of his career -- the unversity still has a photo posted of him teaching, here at right. Over those years, which now amount to almost 50, I wrote maybe four or five letters to him, trying to keep in touch. He never answered. This is disappointing.

    I'm always glad to hear from former students, especially when what they say is of the form "you changed my life" (in a good way). I am perplexed that Cousens never thought to respond to me. At the same time, I have been unable to find any published work by him. Since he had always said that he was using his English department career to get into philosophy, it sounds like this didn't work out -- although we see Kant, Kierkegaard, and Husserl on the blackboard behind him in one of his classes at Puget Sound.

    After Cousens retired, I tried one more letter to his department. It didn't come back; nor did I, still, ever get an answer. I tried one last approach. Cousens had a daughter, Elizabeth, who has become a significant figure at the United Nations, of all things. She actually delivered the Commencement address at Puget Sound in 1987. The UN provides no personal or contact information for her, but it does have, of course, a general mailing address. So I wrote a final letter to Cousens c/o of her. Again, it didn't come back, but neither was there an answer. So I give up.

    Cousens was opinionated about lot of things. One remark sticks in my mind. He said that the University of California at Berkeley was "enlightened," because if even one student wanted to take a course in Old Church Slavonic, they would schedule the class. That is the first I ever heard of Old Church Slavonic. Whether that was the practice at Berkeley at the time, in 1966, or not, I have never encountered such a policy anywhere I've been a student or a teacher -- usually a minimum enrollment is necessary for a class to "make." In fact, one thing I am familiar with is the difficulty at Princeton University of taking classes in Sanskrit at all. The very year that the Princeton Religion Department finally added a chair for Indian religion, they dropped altogether even hiring part-timers to teach Sanskrit, which is an essential language for Indian religion. For a while, a graduate student might need to travel to New York City or Philadelphia to take Sanskrit. This problem was recitified, but still not with a regular position in Sanskrit, or any other Indian language (e.g. Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, etc.). Meanwhile, my wife had had no difficulty taking Sanskrit and even Pali at UCLA, from hardened Sanskritist full professors.

    Of course, Princeton is actually a small school, and at some point the decision was made to concentrate on East Asia, especially China and Japan. This resulted in rich programs for each. Prince Fumitaka Konoe (1915-1956), son of Japanese Prime Minister (1937-1939, 1940-1941) Fumimaro Konoe (1891-1945), graduated from Princeton in 1938. But India was neglected.

    The summer after we had graduated from high school, my friend Lee was out looking for books about Socrates and Socratic Method at the bookstores we liked in Westwood. What he found was the Dover edition of Leonard Nelson's Socratic Method and Critical Philosophy, which contained Nelson's classic essay, "The Socratic Method." I obtained my own copy, and then a curious thing happened. My German teacher from high school, Ola Vorster, had invited many of her old students over for a party. While talking with her at the party, I happened to mention that I had gotten interested in philosophy. She then asked if I had ever heard of "Leonard Nelson"! It turned out that when she was a child in Switzerland, her family had rented a room to a man who was contributing money to Nelson's Philosophisch-Politische Akademie. This eventually led to her older sister, Masha Oetli, joining the Academy. Mrs. Vorster herself was briefly at the Academy but decided to go into medicine instead. After World War II, disgusted with the Swiss showing a friendliness to Nazi refugees that they had not shown to earlier Jewish refugees, she came to America; but in her home in Los Angeles she still had a German pamphlet of Nelson's Die Socratische Methode.

    After this surprising connection turned up, I got into contact with Mrs. Vorster's sister, who was still alive, and obtained German editions of Nelson's Kritik der praktischen Vernunft and Fries's Neue oder anthropologische Kritik der Vernunft from Germany. My connection with the German Nelsonians, however, remained tenuous. After reading Nelson, Kant, some Kant scholarship (beginning with that recommended by Cousens), and other philosophy, it was clear to me that I was going to be working many things out for myself and that I had no intention of merely being a scholar or a disciple of Nelson, or of anyone else. I was also spreading myself far afield through interests in Islamic philosophy and the Middle East, where I actually spent my Junior Year at the American University of Beirut. I was not enough of a linguistic genius to perfect my German, Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Persian all together -- so naturally none got perfected. Later, at the University of Hawai'i, I developed similar interests in the India and the Far East. Apart from these diversions (or broadening interests), there was also the awkwardness that, although I didn't agree with Nelson about everything, I did agree with him on a number of issues where Nelson's surviving philosophy students, like Grete Henry-Hermann and Gustav Heckmann, had abandoned the Friesian position.

    My last serious contact with them was in 1974-75 when we exchanged letters over an essay I had submitted to their Prize Essay contest on Nelson. Just having devoted considerable study to Nelson's Critique of Practical Reason and Progress and Regress in Philosophy, my essay defended the Friesian conception of non-intuitive immediate knowledge and criticized Henry-Hermann's own recent evaluation of it in her "Significance of Behavior Study for the Critique of Reason" [Ratio, Volume XV, No.2, December 1973, pp. 206-220]. They were surprised that anyone still believed in that stuff. Certainly nobody else did.

    This all discouraged me about trying to pursue graduate study in Germany or Britain. I ended up making my way academically through American philosophy departments that had not been overwhelmed by analytic and linguistic orthodoxy, as at the University of Hawai'i (where I had made friends with Lenn Goodman) and at the University of Texas (where the late Irwin Lieb, with some pleasant memories of having read Nelson as a student, took an interest in me). In the dissertation I eventually wrote, under the patient help and tolerance of Doug Browning at Texas, I tried to extend Nelson's thought with the help of complementary ideas, not just from Kant, but also from Schopenhauer and Otto.

    My last happy contact with one of the surviving early figures of Nelson's group was with Paul Branton. I met Paul in Guadalajara, Mexico, in November 1985, where he was attending a philosophy conference that a friend of his at the University of Guadalajara, Fernando Leal Carretero, was putting on. Fernando himself had discovered Leonard Nelson while in school in Germany just by stumbling across the Gesammelte Schriften in a library! From that start, he had gotten in touch with the people who were still running Nelson's Philosophisch-Politische Akademie [note]. I had myself just happened to find out about Paul's connection to Ratio; and since Paul was coming to Guadalajara anyway, he offered to pay my way (I was in post-dissertation unemployment) so we could meet. The result was stories about the Nelson people over the years and a personal connection that I had missed developing with Nelson's students in Germany.

    As it happened, Fernando Leal was no more interested in Nelson's actual philosophy than were any of the other Nelson people in Germany. I asked him about that, and he said that Nelson was mainly an example for him of philosophical "commitment." While I would have liked to keep in touch, I have never heard from him again. I see that he does work promoting Greta (Henry-)Hermann's version of Nelson. It is, in the end, a very unfortunate and discouraging business. But I expect that none of the Nelson people would have sympathy for my respect for Schopenhauer (although a "serious man" to Karl Popper), Rudolf Otto, or, for that matter, traditional and conventional religion, let alone that I have settled into what I regard as a Kant-Friesian version of Platonism. I don't think Nelson would have minded, but then we know how passé he was. "Immediate knowledge"! Ha!

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    Autobiographical statement on Leonard Nelson, Note

    The Philosophisch-Politische Akademie still functions and may be reached on the World Wide Web at, or by mail at:

    Helmut Müller (Schatzmeister der PPA)
    An Tiebes Eiche 29
    53229 Bonn
    Barbara Neißer (1. Vorsitzende)
    Bensberger Marktweg 23
    51069 Köln

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    On Libertarianism

    My interest in classical liberal economics and libertarian politics was much longer in coming than my connection with Friesian philosophy. I registered as a Democrat at 21 (voting age in those days) and first voted in a Presidential election for George McGovern. That orientation didn't change much over the years. Like a good "Liberal," I assumed that capitalism was basically OK but needed the fixups produced by the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and things like the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On the other hand, I was genuinely Liberal enough to believe in drug legalization but not in "affirmative action" preferential policies. I was against censorship, accepted Roe v. Wade, and supported "clothing optional" opportunities (a bit of an issue in the 70's), but at the same time I was against involuntary bussing to create racial balance at public schools. The first I heard of Libertarians was in connection with clothing optional issues in Austin, Texas. I approved of the Libertarians in that respect, though otherwise I thought they had an idiosyncratic, fringe ideology.

    The tiny cloud on the horizon that ultimately upset this orientation was Karl Popper. The first I had heard of Popper, I rather disliked him, mainly because of his condemnation of Plato in The Open Society and Its Enemies. I didn't mind his condemnation of Hegel or Marx, but I still had too much of a sentimental regard for Plato on political issues where I didn't even really agree with him much anyway. Over time, however, I could only have respect for Popper's views about science, and before long I found his references to Fries in The Logic of Scientific Discovery. I thought that Popper had somewhat misconstrued Fries, but it impressed me that he was concerned with him at all. On the other hand, I didn't see much in Popper that was terribly helpful when it came to ethics or other value questions.

    I discovered the key to a better application of Popper's ideas to ethics and politics in the Fall of 1991 when I happened to pick up a copy of F.A. Hayek's recently published The Fatal Conceit (1988). I cannot remember now just why I decided to have a look at the book. Hayek had come in for some public notice with the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 since he was one of the few Western economists who had always predicted the failure of socialized and command economies. So I learned of the principles on which he had made that prediction and discovered that he expressed them in terms of the epistemology of David Hume and Karl Popper. This struck me with the force of a revelation and rapidly changed almost everything I had ever believed about economics, capitalism, and much of the history of the 20th Century.

    Hayek started me thinking. This all threw a hard light, not just on my own "Liberal" beliefs, but on the kinds of things that my friends, generally of the same persuasion, had always said and done. Indeed, in Austin in the 70's, I even knew some people in the Communist Party USA. At the time, they seemed to me in error, often seriously in error, but in retrospect the error began to seem of a much more tragic and dangerous character. It had already occurred to me that the events of 1989-91 had, after a fashion, turned the world inside out. It had already seemed peculiar that more recognition had not been given in public life to what it had all meant. As Milton Friedman was to say, it seemed that the failure of socialism had been taken to mean that more socialism (e.g. nationalized medicine) was necessary. People I knew who persisted in mildly or seriously leftist opinions seemed to me rather like what Talleyrand said of the Bourbons: They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. On top of that, discovering an intellectual universe where the world had always been seen in a very different way anyway was just astonishing.

    There remained one last element, however. What I knew and understood was changing rapidly enough, but I still lacked the emotional shove that would push me over into real political activism. That was finally provided by Ayn Rand, in an ironic way. In the later stages of our relationship, my first wife had read Rand's Atlas Shrugged and had liked it greatly. Her representation of it to me, however, was not very appealing. In particular, she related the incident where Hank Rearden refuses to provide a job, even some meaningless button-sorting job, for his worthless brother. I didn't think it would hurt Rearden to take care of his brother, but my wife thought he had done the right thing. This disagreement seemed to me to be a bad sign. Seventeen years later, it turned out that my present wife actually had an old copy of Atlas Shrugged herself, having found things she liked, as well as disliked, about the book. So, in January 1992, I sat down to finally read the book myself.

    Although, as I have related elsewhere, there are serious problems with Rand's thought, Atlas Shrugged turned out to be an absolutely gripping and compelling book. My objection so many years before to Hank Rearden's behavior turned out to be based on an incomplete representation:  His brother did not actually need a job because Rearden had already been supporting him for years! What the brother really wanted was some position where he still wouldn't have to do any work but could boss people around and lord it over them. To Rearden this was, very properly, unacceptable. Besides clearing up misunderstandings like that, Rand's book finally pushed me over the edge politically. Overcome with a moral passion rather like Rand's, I knew immediately that the only existing political organization that I could morally be associated with was the Libertarian Party. For a few days I thought I would support them even while remaining a Democrat, so I could vote in Democratic primaries; but then I realized that there was never going to be anyone worth voting for in a Democratic Primary. In light of the vast engine of theft, fraud, and tyranny that the Democratic Party had become, I would never be voting for any Democrat under any circumstances again. Far better to give everything to the Libertarians.

    Now I have been a Libertarian Candidate for California State Assembly four times, getting 6% of the vote in 1994 and 8% in 1996, and a Candidate for Congress three times, with less impressive results. This has often seemed a hopeless task, especially when California adopted an "open primary" with the obvious, but dissimulated, purpose of eliminating minor parties from general election ballots, and some people might think that I am wasting my time and would be better advised to work within some major party. However, I will certainly not waste my time on the Republican, Democratic, or any other parties that are already so far gone in sophistry and tyranny that their ideology and practices would be unrecognizable, indeed a disgrace, to the Founders of the Nation. The truly Liberal views I already held in the 70's now find their mates in the Classical Liberalism of free market economics and the only political organization that is truly dedicated to Jeffersonian democracy.

    The Kind of Libertarian I Am

    That Hideous Strength

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    On Egypt Αἰγυπτόφιλος

    The hieroglyphic character above, Ꜣḫ, can mean "be beneficial, advantageous," or, as a noun (Ꜣḫt), "something advantageous, usefulness." It can also mean "blessed spirit," as in the name of the heretic Egyptian king Akhenaton. It can also be used to write the words for "horizon," "tomb," the royal uraeus cobra, or the "beneficent" eye of the sun god Rê, all Ꜣḫt, or the word for "sunshine," Ꜣḫw. The causative, sꜢḫ, can mean "beatify, render blessed" [Alan Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, Oxford, 1964, p. 550].

    Ꜣḫ thus represents an important idea, and consequently Henri Frankfort chose it for the title page of his great Ancient Egyptian Religion, an Interpretation [Harper Torchbooks, 1961], the book I might say was ultimately responsible for directing my interest in the direction of philosophy. Ancient Egypt was the first area of scholarly knowledge that I had become interested in, all the way back when I was 11 or 12 years old. One of the early books that influenced me was Everyday Life in Ancient Times, published by the National Geographic Society [1961]. The "Daily Life in Ancient Egypt" section by William C. Hayes [pp.71-167] mesmerized me. I am glad to see that Camille Paglia says that "the Egyptians had 'taste'" and credits them with having "invented elegance" [Sexual Personae, Vintage Books, 1991, pp. 60-61]. It was not until 1991 that I finally saw in the Metropolitan Museum of Art the actual jewelry, elegant indeed, recovered from the tomb of the XII Dynasty princess Sit-Hathor-Yunet, portrayed, with her, on page 118 of Everyday Life. Hayes' statement that the victory of Thutmose III at the battle of Megiddo occurred on 15 May 1478 BC [p.144], led, rather absurdly, to a minor celebration of "Megiddo Day" at my junior high school in 1964.

    One of the most fascinating things to the 12-year-old me, which would certainly horrify "family values" and "child protective" advocates today, was the portrayal of Egyptian nudity in "Daily Life in Ancient Egypt." Indeed, the National Geographic Magazine derived much of its popularity for decades from the fact that it was the only accessible and mainstream publication that depicted nudity. Most of that turned out to be less interesting to me than a representation of nudity in the context of a civilization that obviously did not consist of "primitive" peoples, whose nakedness might just be the result of their poverty, their ignorance, or an equatorially hot climate. Throughout Egyptian history, female dress frequently was all or partially bare breasted, and complete nudity, male and female, is occasionally found represented in portrayals of daily life in private Egyptian tombs, as it was then reproduced (often as versions of the tomb originals) in the colorful illustrations of the National Geographic book. It was pretty mild stuff by any standards, e.g. the young daughter of Menena (now usually rendered "Menna") on page 149 [see left], from the original on page 123 (the Sheikh Abul-Qurna tomb Th 69) [see right], and the serving girls at the banquet on page 157 [see below right, patterned on the banquet in the tomb of Nebamun, Sheikh Abul-Qurna tomb Th 90]; but it served both to awaken some sexual consciousness and to introduce a subversive element into my thinking about life. If the Egyptians were so free showing their bodies, why weren't we? I still think this is a good question, even while the Nudity Taboo of the Egyptians' Asiatic neighbors, promoted into the modern world by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, seems to have firmly clamped down again after a bit of 60's and 70's experimentation.

    Of course, conducting oneself in a certain way out of belief in the modesty requirements of a specific religion is unobjectionable; imposing the same conduct on others by law is tyranny -- there is no truly moral reason why people should not simply go naked in public, as some have in many world cultures, without any particular effect on sexual practices. Indeed, such public nudity as we still see in India is among holy men who have renounced sex and family life -- though the universally bare upper torsos of women that we see in Classical Indian art have vanished. Besides an absence of a legal notion of "indecent exposure," Egyptian hieroglyphic writing often consisted of what now would be regarded as obscene graffiti. What Egypt represented for me then was perhaps what Sâmoa represented to Margaret Meade, with equal parts of fantasy: A freer and more sensual life than what seemed available where I was. That was certainly not something I was likely to find in modern Egypt, though I did eventually live a life rather like what I had imagined, with my first wife, lovelier than Menna's daughter, in Hawai'i.

    The first talks I ever gave on anything in a classroom were impromptu outlines of Egyptian history in a couple of high school classes. That occurred on days we had substitute teachers, who didn't quite know what to do, and somehow the idea got broached that I could tell everyone about Egypt. I enjoyed doing that, though I am sure it all seemed very strange. It was about that time, when I was around 16, that I came across Frankfort's book. His discussion of the Egyptian "instruction" literature, like the "Instruction of Ptahhotep" [cf. Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms, University of California Press, 1975, p.61], and especially of the Egyptian concept of MꜢꜤt ("Maat"), "Truth," had a profound, even revelatory impact on me. Now I can see that it was, indeed, a version of the idea of Natural Law: Even the god-king of Egypt was expected to conform to its dictates. The purpose of Egyptian kingship was to restore things as they had been "in the beginning," when the gods had established MꜢꜤt in the first place. This prepared me for the similarly revelatory experience when I was introduced to Socrates and Greek philosophy just about a year later. Indeed, I had already decided, thinking about Frankfort, that I could do no better in life than to pursue wisdom.

    My love of Egypt at first directed my interest into archaeology, and that determined my first college destination: the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. With all the archaeological sites of the American Southwest, New Mexico had an excellent program. My problem turned out to be that the way into archaeology was through anthropology, about which I was nowhere near as interested, and I had already caught the philosophy bug. After starting with a dual major of Anthropology and Philosophy at New Mexico, I moved on to UCLA my sophomore year to continue with Greek, take Arabic, and forget about anthropology. My historical interest then moved into larger Classical and Middle Eastern areas, as my philosophical interests had been attracted by Leonard Nelson and Immanuel Kant.

    To my surprise, it wasn't long before I was in Egypt itself. To my Arabic class at UCLA came a University official who was trying to interest people in going to Lebanon on the University of California program. So in 1969-70, when the Lebanese civil war wasn't yet even a cloud on the horizon, I spent my junior year at the American University of Beirut. This put me within striking distance of Egypt, and I went there on a Lebanese tour, with Beirutis and AUB students and academics, over Christmas vacation, including Christmas Day, of 1969. By then I knew quite a bit about the Middle East and Islam and wasn't merely interested in the ancient sites. It was also a year in which the state of war between Egypt and Israel had heated up a bit: Tourists could only go a few places, the windows of the Cairo Museum were taped up against bomb damage, and the police were jumpy about people taking pictures of things like bridges. Otherwise the country and people seemed easy going enough. I was fortunate to get to the Valley of the Kings at a time when the tomb of Seti I was still open. I rode on horseback with one other adventurous AUB student from Saqqara to Giza, passing by the pyramids at Abu Sir, where the boundary between desert and cultivation was still exactly where it had been when those V Dynasty pyramids were built, four thousand years earlier. I also braced myself to see the mummies of the kings in the Cairo Museum.

    For all my interest in Egypt, I had never liked pictures of mummies. I still don't. The Egyptians themselves wouldn't have been interested in anything of the sort. The dead to them were neatly and pleasantly concealed once they came from the embalmer. Fortunately, in my childhood, books about Egypt didn't always, and sometimes never, had such pictures. But I could not pass up seeing people who, after three thousand years, were actually still around to be seen; and in the bright open space of the Cairo Museum mummy room, with the kings and others laid out head to toe, the whole scene was so fascinating that the horror of the ancient dead didn't bother me at all. The wound that killed Tao II of the XVII Dynasty, probably fighting the Hyksos, was still plainly visible on his forehead. Plato, Alexander, Caesar, and Constantine had all gone to dust, and some people argue about whether Jesus even existed, but Thutmose III and Ramesses II are still there, older than them all, in their quiet repose of eternity, just as they intended -- after the priceless service of the loving priests of the XXI Dynasty, who cached them all, despoiled by the tomb robbers, safely away. When the body of Ramesses II was flown to France for treatment, he was received with the full military honors of a Head of State. He would have expected no less, even from barbarians in some distant terra incognita.

    After Beirut, my life went off in new directions, and nowhere near Egypt again, except indirectly through the astounding collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. But what I loved about Egypt, and a few other things, like rain, weren't there anyway. MꜢꜤt -- truth and justice -- turns out to be anywhere, and "its worth is lasting" still, just as to Ptahhotep.

    Index of Egyptian History

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