Philosophy professor's Final Class• arclein
He was already in his seventies when I first met him, in 2008, but he still appeared more energetic than most of his students. You'd hear him coming down the hall, engaged in animated conversation, and then he'd stroll confidently and generously into the classroom, a small man in a black turtleneck, his sleeves rolled up, his wavy white hair swept gently back. He had a distinctively raspy voice that was somehow always half ironic and yet deeply sincere, and which sounded more streetwise than the other professors. Even a foreigner like me, from Barcelona, could hear the Brooklyn in it. Bernstein grew up in Borough Park in a family of Jewish immigrants who owned a furniture store. He went to the University of Chicago, where he wrote an undergraduate thesis on love and friendship in Plato's works. One of his classmates was Richard Rorty, who would go on to become philosophy's most prominent postwar pragmatist. (Another classmate was Susan Sontag.) Rorty went to Yale for his Ph.