Wednesday, March 14, 2007
If you peruse some of the more popular law blogs, PrawfsBlawg, Concurring Opinions, and the like, from time to time you see a comment from Patrick O'Donnell (pictured, left), and it is apparent that this is a very, very literate fellow on the subject of moral philosophy and the law. Dean Jim Chen once mentioned to me that Patrick O'Donnell was a teacher in a community college somewhere in California. After a colloquy a couple weeks ago over in the comments following Nate Oman's post on the power of badly written judicial opinions, and after seeing another insightful comment the other day, I sent Patrick an e-mail with the subject heading "Who Are You?" With his permission, I offer the following only slightly edited autobiography.
I'm an adjunct instructor at Santa Barbara City College for seven years now ('Comparative World Religions' in the Philosophy Department and 'Political Thinking' in the Political Science Department. Prior to that I was a finish carpenter: when re-building a home here that burned down in the Painted Cave Fire some years ago, the owner asked if I would substitute for her at the college (Nandini, my closest friend, was my teacher at UC Santa Barbara in the Religious Studies Dept. [Sanskrit, philosophy of religion, etc.], and I took courses in political thought in the Political Science Dept. from her late husband, Raghavan Iyer [author of nonpareil study of Gandhi's moral and political philosophy]; their son, the travel writer, essayist and novelist [and dear friend: we're the same age] Pico Iyer, wrote about his narrow escape from the fire for Time magazine), and I was eventually offered my own courses (critical thinking and world religions), whereupon I hung up my tool belt. I was in my 40s when I started teaching (I also do landscape maintenance for our small condo. assoc.; fortunately my wife earns the bulk of our income, and will continue to do so as long as I publish something now and again). Dennis Patterson at Rutgers (Law and Philosophy) is my gracious cyberspace mentor in all-things-jurisprudential and Oliver Leaman (Univ. Kentucky, Philosophy) has served as same in Islamic Studies (in which I've published a few things).
When I asked Patrick for permission to post about him, he told me what I had so far was too flattering, so I needed to add "that I'm a vegetarian that looks like anything but; that I've never flown in a plane (although I did fly in a helicopter with the USFS to fight a fire in an otherwise remote area of Ojai); that I don't own a cellphone, a microwave oven or have any credit or debit cards; that I've never owned (and probably never will own) a car less than 20 years old (were it not for the heat, in other words, I'd be perfectly at home in Cuba); that I don't own a suit; that I absolutely abhor (get quite clausterphobic in) crowds (which means I'm confined to watching the Dodgers on television [but if Vin Scully is announcing it's about as close to heaven as I can imagine]); that I won't live anywhere in which the necessities of life are not within bicycling distance; etc., etc."