A year ago I met a French philosopher, Michel JuffÃ©, at a conference on Levinas and psychology at Seattle University. In August of this year, I took part in a conference on loss that he sponsored at Cerisy-la-Salle, in Normandy. Sunday Professor JuffÃ© stopped by Provo on his way to a second Seattle conference on Levinas and psychology (which I was disappointed not to be able to take part in). I picked Professor JuffÃ© up from the airport Saturday night and took him to the West Desert, the Salt Flats, and Temple Square on Sunday. Monday morning he gave a talk on Descartes and Spinoza, then we went for a ride in the mountains so he could see some of the variety of geography we have here in Utah. Today he went on to Seattle.
While in Provo, Professor JuffÃ© stayed with Janice and me, and we had a great time visiting with him. From his responses to things, I think he too enjoyed his stay. Though we have only met a few times, I felt real friendship for and from him.
His visit prompted two thoughts. To keep the threads separate, Iâ€™ll make them two separate posts, but the context is the same for each. First question: What explains why we quickly become friends with some and not with others? Professor JuffÃ© and I share the fact that we both like philosophy and we both like teaching philosophy. But I am a Mormon and he is a non-practicing Catholic. He is French and I am American, and though I love many things French and he loves many things American (especially American cinema), there still remains considerable difference between the French and the Americans. I donâ€™t speak French all that well; he doesnâ€™t speak English all that well (though I think his English is better than my French). It wouldnâ€™t be difficult to make the list of our differences fairly long, but you get the picture. Nevertheless, I think we really did become friends? Why? How?
Go here for the second question.