Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Edward Said's Beard

Some time before he died, the great Palestinian author Edward Said grew a beard.  Now, for anyone else this would be a trivial event, but for a world renowned intellectual it signaled to me that simple vanity that even the best of us cannot escape.  It also brought to mind the age old debate over whether or not philosophers should be above worldly things. 

We know from Diogenes Laërtius that Aristotle was fond of his rings, and kept his hair well groomed.  Wittgenstein read detective novels and loved watching Westerns.  Marx enjoyed a good dirty joke and crawling through pubs.  The list could be endless, but the point is the same: thinking is a  human endeavor, and even those who are its finest practitioners, remain, very much human.

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