When I was an undergraduate, I double majored in philosophy and English. (Readers who know my scholarship can attest to the effect of those years. I always lean toward the conceptual and the narrative.) Before I transferred to Fordham University where I completed my degree, I attended the Catholic University of America. One day while meeting with a philosophy professor (I cannot remember which one, but there were many), I spied on his bookshelf a fantastic nine book series called A History of Philosophy by Frederick Copleston, S.J.. I was broke at the time, but committed to acquiring my own series. So, any time I went into a used book store I headed straight for the philosophy section and excitedly scoured the shelf for volumes of Copleston’s works.
That quest came to an end last week at Housing Works Bookstore down in Soho. I have in my office the first eight volumes, all purchased over the last fifteen years from used book stores around the country. (I imposed a rule that I could not purchase them online. Physical stores only.) But for the last few years, I simply could not find the ninth volume. My expectations were low when I entered Housing Works. But there, on the bottom shelf in the philosophy section was it: Volume 9. I grabbed it, took a picture of it, and then awkwardly told other customers and staff around me that I had finally found it and how elated I was. You can imagine how that went, but I didn’t care.
So here’s to philosophy and to used bookstores and to Jesuits and to sticking to one’s bibliophilic commitments!
Now I just have to read them all.