On the first day of my Philosophy of Mind course my junior year of college at UC Berkeley, Professor John Searle picked me out of a crowd of 200 undergraduates and gruffly barked, “You look troubled. Come see me in office hours.”
I was scared to death, but I dared not disobey. With the help of all my friends, I managed to come up with some passable questions worthy of asking this very famous philosopher. Then — for reasons I still do not fully understand — he took me under his wing and taught me philosophy.
For the next two years, I spent nearly every day walking with my professor to cafes and bookstores and lecture halls, learning how to ask questions, how to extend arguments, how to analyze the structure of thought and action, how to search for logical inconsistencies, how to fight intellectual battles like a prizefighter.
Under his tutelage, I was thinking a mile-a-minute all the time. I loved philosophy, and I loved being a philosopher.
I had no idea how special and rare this sort of teacher-student relationship was. I thought it was normal.
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