John Gardner at Home

Memories from Jules Coleman

Dear John,

The other day I received an email Jenny had sent out which was forwarded to me by Scott Hershovitz detailing the current state of your health, which is obviously not good. I was shocked to hear at first in large part because I had not known that you had been battling cancer for some time, and secondly, because I think of you not only as vibrant, but able to ward off all manner of ill outcome by quality of argument. Alas, cancer cannot be defeated by compelling argument alone. My mood quickly turned despondent as I recall the wonderful times we have had together, almost all of which involved your embarrassing me philosophically, which helped ingrain in me an appropriate modesty that I have maintained since, both to my advantage as a person and to my dismay as a wannabe.

My most vivid memories are of our original meeting at Oxford where you were the commentator on my paper, your criticisms so compelling and presented with such altogether warranted confidence that I turned to Joseph Raz in puzzlement and wonder to ask "Who is this youngster?", the courses we co-taught at Yale, your generosity in attending and contributing to conferences held in my honor, where once again you gave me ever more reason to be modest, the time at the ALP in San Diego with your one-word stinging and altogether British critique of a position of one of the paper presenters as 'remarkable' (made all the more noteworthy by his taking you to have complimented him for it), not to mention the time we were nearly killed while on a pizza run for dinner in New Haven. And need I remind you of our Jerry Springer moment. Lots of joy, good will and philosophic growth all in one friendship. And one that has always meant a great deal to me.