April 19, 2011

The poor sod: File under Western Philosophy 432

À propos of nothing in particular, it occurred to me to explain this blog's frequent use of the expression "poor sod" which I understand is not unique to American English. The reason it's enjoyed so much here is because Fabrizio Mondadori, who is a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, invariably used the term to describe René Descartes during a course I took under his unforgettable tutelage. Having initially expounded on Descartes's theory of mind, the remainder of the course dwelt with the countervailing proto-positivism of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.*

And almost every time Descartes made an appearance in Prof. Mondadori's discourse thence, it was only with the suffix, "the poor sod." And for whatever obscure reasons whenever I think of those moments now, I can't help laughing out loud. So there you go.

* Prof. Mondadori said that David Hume was the greatest writer in the English language (and he wasn't kidding around then). I had never heard a philosopher — or any non-poet, -novelist, or -dramatist — described in those high terms before and it's a captivating opinion.

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