… the arts are not to be slighted on the ground that they create by imitation. (Plotinus.)

Let the lamp affix its beam. (Wallace Stevens, “The Emperor of Ice Cream.”)


I was brought up in Southern California during the 1960s and ‘70s – the best of times and the worst of times. I remember John Glenn’s Friendship 7 flight, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the JFK assassination (and those of MLK and RFK), the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, the Watts Riots (and the riots at the Democratic National Convention), Apollo 11 (and Apollo 13), the Tet Offensive (and My Lai), Woodstock (and Altamont), the Manson Family, Kent State, ping-pong diplomacy (and Nixon’s trip to China), Fischer-Spassky, Munich, the Energy Crisis, Watergate, and Jonestown.

In 1979 I moved from California to New York City and in 1980 began graduate school at Princeton. After passing my general exams I moved to Paris in 1983, got married, became a father, finished my Ph.D. dissertation, and moved with my family back to Southern California in 1987. I started teaching at Berkeley the following year and have lived in the Bay Area ever since.

When I joined Berkeley’s Department of Rhetoric it was something of an intellectual wildlife preserve that sheltered scholars in many fields including literature, film, history of ideas, law, politics, and sociology as well as philosophy. Partly as a result, I’ve worked in a variety of areas over the years, including political and moral philosophy, hermeneutics, American politics and culture, philosophy of art, and even philosophy of mind.

Posts include questions and answers imported from Quora, some very simple and others more involved. The site also features commentary, observations, criticism, lectures, essays, and the occasional creative artwork.

Frederick M. Dolan, Professor of Rhetoric, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

Frederick at

Frederick at Quora