Richard Taylor is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Rochester and an internationally renowned ethicist. Tim Madigan tracked him down to discuss Schopenhauer, metaphysics and the intriguing art of beekeeping.
How did you get involved in, of all things, philosophy?
I never had any philosophy in college. My mother’s pastor imagined that I would make a fine preacher, so after college I went off to the University of Chicago to study religion. This quickly convinced me of the absurdity of the Christian religion, but I did encounter philosophers there, for the first time, and I discovered Plato. Soon after Pearl Harbor was bombed I enlisted in the Navy, was commissioned, then sent to the Postgraduate School of the Naval Academy at Annapolis. This led to the Pacific submarine force where, before war’s end, I became a staff officer of a submarine squadron operating out of the Philippines.