Many undergraduates are studying hard for finals. Should they be? Reasonable Ephs may differ. I think that, instead, they ought to stay up all night trying to prove Kant’s categorical imperative.

That’s what I was doing 20 years ago. Actually, the above scribbling is by Chuck Goforth ’87, a frequent visitor to my junior year suite in Carter House. (Click for a larger image.) Outside of love notes to my then-girl-friend-now-wife, this is the piece of paper I treasure most from Williams.

For some reason, we had gotten into a debate about whether or not a failure to choose was immoral. Having been taught my philosophy by folks like Alan White and Laszlo Vernsenyi, I was fairly certain that Chuck couldn’t prove this, but it was endlessly fun to watch him try. We must have spent 8 hours on the topic, time that I “should have” spent studying for my Money and Banking final. Yet I argued instead of studying, talked instead of sleeping. Even then it was obvious that no one would ever really care whether I got an A or a B in ECON 367.

So, young Ephs in Williamstown, spend tonight talking with your friends, arguing about the politics of today or the philosophical debates of yesteryear. In a few short years you will find that, sadly, no one wants to stay up all night talking the deep talk anymore. Embrace the opportunities that you have right now.

Studying is overrated. Try proving the categorical imperative yourself.

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