For close to four decades, William David Solomon has been my teacher, colleague, and friend. I first met Professor Solomon when he was still a young man, as professors see things, and I was hardly more than a boy. I was a transfer student at Notre Dame from the University of Chicago in the fall of 1978, starting my junior year at a new place and without the new friends that a freshman can count on, a bit lonely and still undecided between economics and philosophy as fields of study.
I took a seminar on moral relativism with him, a hot topic in those days, and I wrote my first paper about how the issues look different if one thinks of ethics as practical rather than theoretical. He saw the promise in it and overlooked the presumption, like all really good teachers, and invited me to lunch in the faculty dining room, where I also met some other philosophers who have been life-long companions on this wonderful journey we get to call our work. Professor Solomon’s hospitality, personal, intellectual, and professional, has never failed me; it invited my aspiration then, and my emulation now.
I am conscious of failing to accept his invitation only in one thing: his passion for the novels of Anthony Trollope. I see my career, poor thing, as a steward of what David too has been a steward of, passing down to our students and grandstudents and our students’ students’ students the unearned treasure we ourselves received. We cannot thank adequately those from whom we learn philosophy; but as with parents and God, we can express our gratitude. Thank you, David Solomon, and may you take pride in all my students as your long progeny.
David O’Connor is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Concurrent Professor of Classics.