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Does the Greek letter chi stand for Chicago?

Getting to one’s own truth
I read President Randel’s letter (“From the President,” April/04) about “always tell[ing] the truth” at four in the morning and could not wait till dawn to send you my comment.

President Randel described “the tools with which anyone might try to discover the truth.” He said that those tools, which the University tries to teach, are teaching not “what to think but how to think.” He further noted the problem that “not everyone possesses, or even believes in, these tools,” referring to “those who believe that the fundamental truths are revealed in a realm beyond human reason.”

Before attending Chicago’s Law School I attended Catholic schools for 16 years, having been raised in a very devout Catholic family. I chose the Law School over the strong religious objections of my mother and some of my Catholic friends. I did so for a reason I could not reveal until its source died: the dean of Notre Dame’s Law School advised me, under promise not to tell anyone, that the U of C’s Law School was the best and to go there.

Before the Law School I had never been taught how to think, only what to think and that thinking anything to the contrary would land you in hell. In my first quarter at Chicago, after a class had ended, I was involved in a discussion with Professor Malcolm Sharp about an issue before the class. One student finally asked Professor Sharp, then in his 60s and one of the more brilliant persons I have ever known, what he thought the answer was. He replied, “Your answer is as good as mine.”

In another first-year class with Professor Francis Allen, we discussed an English case in which, in the late 1800s, two men adrift at sea had killed and eaten another man, the weakest, to survive. The question was whether this act was criminal murder. At the end of three days of class discussion with Professor Allen only asking questions, a student finally asked what Allen thought. I never forgot his answer: “Your answer to that question depends on your conception of the nature of man.”

In the first week of classes at Chicago, even without realizing it, I began the glimmerings of learning to think for myself, and it has been a lifetime endeavor. Thanks, U of C.

Bert Metzger, JD’61

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