We have on occasion had reason to call attention to our former professors and colleagues from UT. Yesterday I was hit with a blast from the past when I heard R.J. “Jim” Hankinson interviewed on The History of Philosophy podcast. He was, of course, talking about Galen. I’m pretty sure he’s the world expert on Galen (he was already 15 years ago I think) and he sounds every bit the unbelievably knowledgeable and amusing guy he was back then. Hankinson was quite a character – tall, lean with thick glasses and a crazy wizard beard – super educated and smart but funny and down to earth. I recall distinctly his complimenting me on my understanding of ‘football’ (the European kind) because of my appreciation for a particularly deft 30 yd outside foot pass in a game I was describing.
I took one seminar from him, I think on Ancient Phil but I’m sure we mostly read Galen, and we always retired to the pub afterwards for extended discussions. In a sense, that seminar represents the epitome of what we set out trying to do here at PEL. The conversation rarely stayed on philosophy and rarely lasted less than two pitchers. It was striking to me at the time that Hankinson studied ancient philosophy and could be so fun to hang with, particularly when contrasted with the other ancient folks – nice guys, but not who you would pick to fill a seat at your dinner party (Mourelatos, Woodruff). I house sat for him and his totally cool wife Jennifer one summer as well. I categorically deny throwing any parties.
It’s too bad there aren’t any good picture of Jim on the web that I could find and the picture on the HoP podcast page is too dark to be of any use, cause he’s what you think of when you think ‘crazy philosophy professor’. In any case, listen to what he has to say about Galen, learn something and be amused. Good to see he’s still kicking around and having fun.