I am someone who doesn't think much of academic philosophy. It seemed to me that the field had arrived at a general understanding of the human condition and had little more to offer for several centuries now. So I am delighted to see a philosopher who takes a personal problem -- the so-called midlife crisis -- and attempts to understand it with all the tools he has learned academically over the years. Few philosophy professors do this and some who do do this do it badly, getting involved in things like politics where they lack the skills of good political pundits. One I knew started writing articles for the L.A. Times and boy, were they a bomb!

Personally, I have tried to stimulate a midlife crisis in some academic colleagues over time. I especially like to ask academic biblical scholars why they don't commit suicide, since their scholarship is not read by those who need to read it and is read by those who do not need to read it. They generally call me grumpy for my efforts; perhaps they are right. I also like to plague people writing about the Nazi regime, about the Holocaust, and such matters where I think the facts and the meanings are pretty obvious, but they keep writing books to say that these things remain mysteries. Nonsense! The real mystery is why they keep writing the same book over and over again without any conclusion you can believe in.

Congratulations to Professor Setiya.

Norman Ravitch *62
Savannah, Ga.