Epstein again, on advanced degrees

You are a man of great erudition. You didn’t pursue advanced degrees. How did you figure that out so quickly?

I was not a good student. I was just all right. And I have come to think that a good student is not that impressive a thing to be. A good student can tell you seven reasons for the Renaissance. Big fucking deal. [laughs] He can tell you that materialism is naturalism. Because in order to have naturalism you have to have three things that satisfy materialism and so on. I sensed, in my crude kid way, this really wasn’t where the action is. I have a cousin who died recently. A guy named Sherwin Rosen, who I loved, really. He was the chairman of the Economics Department at Chicago and at a memorial dinner for him this man Gary Becker who won a Nobel Prize in Economics said, “You know when Sherwin was a graduate student here we almost canned him because he was slow in response. If you asked Sherwin a question, he would say, ‘Gee, I am not certain,’ and then he would come back a month later. He brooded on these things. But he saw aspects in the question none of us did. Becker said being fast in response is one of the things we look for in good students. But it’s a mistake.” There is a little list one could make of very smart people who weren’t good at school. I don’t think I could have withstood the torture of graduate school.

Robert Birnbaum interviews Joseph Epstein

[x]#519 fan woensdag 5 mei 2004 @ 22:58:20