On a Philosophical Life

Frank (which is how he was always referred to) has recently become the subject of an interesting book by David Ellis, ‘Frank Cioffi: The Philosopher in Shirt Sleeves.’ It gives a very good sense of what it felt like to be in a room with Frank. Truth to tell, Ellis’s title is deceptive, as I never recall Frank in shirtsleeves. He wore a sweater, usually inside out. He never had laces in the work boots he always wore, and strangest of all, because of an acute sensitivity to fabrics, he wore pajamas underneath his clothes at all times. The word ‘disheveled’ doesn’t begin to describe the visual effect that Frank had on the senses. He was a physically large, strong-looking man, about 6-foot-4. The pajamas were clearly visible at the edges of his sweater, his fly was often undone (some years later, his only word of teaching advice to me was ‘always check your fly’) and he sometimes seemed to hold his pants up with a piece of string. In his pockets would be scraps of paper with typewritten quotations from favorite writers like George Eliot, Tolstoy or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, whom he revered.

Simon Critchley, "There Is No Theory of Everything," The Stone - http://nyti.ms/1QvStlC. A lovely homage to a philosophical life.