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January 05, 2007

The Love of Wisdom

Every day we are faced with philosophical questions. Some questions are small, such as: what is the right thing to do when an unwanted religious proselytizer knocks on your door? And big questions like: how should we approach the painful finality of death? 

Lani Roberts teaches philosophy at Oregon State University. She wrestles with everyday problems of right and wrong, and happens to believe that it is okay to lie to the unwelcome person knocking on her door. Yet she loves the ideal of truthfulness, and in fact reminds Dick that the word 'philosophy' means 'the love of wisdom.' 

Lani began her doctoral studies of philosophy when she was nearly 40, very shortly after the life-jarring experience of her mother's death. This summer, she was at the bedside of her sister as she passed away from cancer. Philosophy, she concludes, isn't about answers, but about enhancing the mystery of why we're here at all.

You'll have to forgive me. I'm a little bit choked up and I didn't think this would happen…But the difference between dealing with my sister's death and my mother's 27 years ago is that I'm much more at peace with the mystery of it, and I welcome the mystery of it. Where before I railed against it. 

The word 'philosophy' is 'philo' and 'sophia' -- and it's the love of wisdom. And so I feel like, in a way, by accepting the mystery, and the pain, and the heartbreak of my sister's death, I have come somewhat closer…to being wise, finding some wisdom. I don't feel like I have to press the matter, that I can accept it for what it is.

- Lani Roberts

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