Henry E. Kyburg, Jr. (1928 – 2007)

Henry Kyburg died Tuesday evening in Rochester, New York. He was 79. His recent diary recorded his thoughts about large cardinals, his cattle dogs, and the philosophy of mind. Judging from the entries — sharp, playful, and ironic to the end — the stroke Henry suffered last year hadn’t blunted his skepticism about understanding the mind. Instead, he took the experience to only bolster his position.

I was Henry’s student. His last, it turned out. And I miss him.

Os antigos invocavam as Musas
Alvaro de Campos (heteronym of Fernando Pessoa)
Translated into English by David Butler.

The ancients used to invoke the Muses.
We invoke ourselves.
I don’t know if the Muses used to appear —
No doubt that would depend on both invoked and invocation —
But I do know that we don’t appear.
How many times have I stooped
Over the well that I suppose myself to be
And bleated ‘Ah!’ so as to hear an echo,
And haven’t heard anything more than I’ve seen —
The vague, dark lustre with which water gleams
There in the uselessness of the depths …
Not a single echo for me …
Only, vaguely, a face
Which must be mine, since it can’t be another’s.
It is an almost invisible thing,
Except as I luminously see
Down there, in the depths …
In the silence and in the deceptive light of the depths …

Some Muse!…

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Henry E. Kyburg, Jr. (1928 – 2007) — 1 Comment