For the first few months of his life, my son didn’t have a name. I mean we had chosen the name Leland, but each time I’d look at him or he at me, I’d be left with a question mark. The inability to name an experience or event is perhaps what people mean when they describe things as wonderful or awe-inspiring  even if they are at times frustrating and mundane. “Who are you?” is a question which will repeatedly haunt my son, as it does us all. Soon the question mark that hovers above his head will transform into a multiplicity of names.  “Who are you?” is a question we ask of others and are faced with each and every day. This question challenges us to understand the names we give each other and ourselves.

In his autobiography, Confessions, St. Augustine struggles with the mystery of this very question. Reading his famous text made me realize that after time studying politics, religion, and philosophy, I still don’t feel prepared to respond to that which will be demanded of my son. When people ask about the “end goal” of my studies, I struggle to give an answer. At this point, the best answer I can give is that philosophy, for me, has always been about asking two related questions: “Who are we?” and “How should we act?” These two questions charge my own work and what you’ll find on this blog. I see myself as a fellow traveler trying to come terms with the names: student, parent, husband, Mennonite, Canadian… I endeavour to make my way along this path with those in my immediate context and the rest of the world.

Caleb Ratzlaff


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