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David Kennedy

David M. Kennedy is the Donald J. McLachian Professor of History at Stanford University. His scholarship is notable for its integration of economic analysis with social history and political history.[…]

Life on this earth, David Kennedy says, is a veil of tears.

David Kennedy: I think I am inevitably the product of my upbringing in the Catholic faith. I’m not an avidly or zealously practicing Catholic today, but neither have I had any traumatic separation from the church over my lifetime. And I think this basic idea that life on this earth is a veil of tears; it will never yield perfect happiness and perfection. That is at the center of Catholic tradition and teaching. And I do believe that that has reinforced and mutually interacted with what I’ve taken from the secular study of history. There’s an old joke about what Catholicism teaches – that it teaches that every one of us is special in the eyes of the Lord; but it also teaches that none of us is really too great. (Laughter) So that’s . . . There’s some mixture of recognizing, or appreciating – celebrating, even – human dignity and the dignity of the human experience; but not being too naïve about the possibility of perfect goodness, or perfection, or utopia in this earthly life. And I think it’s that balance in some semi-articulate way probably makes up whatever passes for my philosophy of life.

Recorded on: 7/4/07

 

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