Thinking About Egos

A Story of Three Mega-Profs and Their Mega-Personalities

Philosophy 192, with mega-professors Robert Nozick, Alan M. Dershowitz, and Stephen Jay Gould has bee variously referred to as "Thinking about Thinking" (the course's official title). "Talking about Talking." and even "Egos on Ego."

The spectacle of these three academic titans waxing philosophic about their respective disciplines continues to draw hundreds of students to each lecture. In fact, as many auditors and onlookers come to lecture as students who are actually taking the class.

What have they all come to see?

For the unlucky few on campus who by some fluke have missed both of the first two lectures, what follows, is a composite dramatization of what one exciting lecture might be like. Be warned: this has not, to my knowledge, actually happened yet, Imagine this as what might be the result of a Current Affair feature or network miniseries on Phil. 192:

The tall man walked into the packed Science center auditorium purposefully, as if walking down a runway at a fashion show. He wore a thin grey cashmere turtleneck under his bold plaid Armani unstructured jacket. He knew Vogue said that earth tones were in this season. He knew he outdressed his two colleagues, even if they were bigger media names. In his head, he quietly reassured himself, "I own this crowd...They worship me...I invented Libertarianism."

Following closely behind the philosopher stood the one known only by his monosyllabic nickname: "Dersh." And Dersh thought as he walked, "Boy, this guy in front of me is all farshlayet (Author's note: far-SHLAY-eht, Yiddish for "all dressed up, like Robert Nozick")...But I don't feel challenged. These kids all saw Reversal of Fortune.. I mean, I got Claus von Bulow off, and they all know it! What's more, I'll give them the Talmudic or Yiddish story shpiel...They'll just eat that whole cute, ethnic identity thing up."

Sauntering behind the two titans was the third superstar, fresh from finishing his eleven hundredth piece for Natural History magazine. He was starting to have a following amongst starry-eyed Harvard undergrads who called him "Anecdote Man" (or, at least, I call him Anecdote Man). Anecdote Man was already laying out plans in his head for his 40-minute segment: "I'll start with an exhaustive 30-second account of the history of baseball, then sprinkle in a little evolutionary history of the lungfish, then mention some arcane astronomical instrument in one of those unknown churches in the French countryside, and then give them all my two cents on Foucault. They'll be wowed, again. I know as much trivia as Cliff Clavin."

As the three entered, the 500 fans, er, students, craned their necks for a glimpse of their idols.

And then, the unthinkable happened. A Crimson photographer leapt to the front of the room and aimed his camera at the three academic immortals.

But before the photographer could aim and shoot, Anecdote Man swiftly dismissed him, "NO PICTURRES! This is not a show," angrily declaimed. "And besides, if you want a picture of us, you can buy the life-sized posters in the stores, like everybody else."

Then, the class happened, Gould gave his anecdotes, Dersh told his funny stories and Nozick watched everyone gape at his fine couture.

That, my friends, is Phil. 192: where you learn to think about thinking. Rumor has it that by the semester's end, some students will have figured out what in God's name that means.