One of my favorite philosophers was named at birth “John McTaggart Ellis”, but his great-uncle, also named “John McTaggart”, died and willed his money to young John McTaggart Ellis on the condition that his family assumed the surname “McTaggart.” So he became J. McT. E. McTaggart . He was a logician who was full of contradictions, an athiest, for example, who believed in immortality. And he made an argument for the unreality of time which is both respected and generally ignored by other philosophers. I used to think I understood it, but have come to realize I never did. However Mr. McT. E. McTaggaart also wrote extensively on love, another subject contemporary philosophers ignore. McT has a lot of very good things to say about it and they are easier to understand than the things he says about time. The question that ends the following poem was posed by McTaggart.
Mother and child, George Romney
WE’RE NOT AS SEPARATE AS WE SUPPOSE
Tiny cells that don’t know what they’re doing
create my heart and liver, lungs and mind,
and we, who also don’t know what we’re doing,
create from deeds and dreams and memories
a greater person called mankind.
I know no more of how that person thinks
than I do of the way my body works.
I see though there are links I cannot see
connecting you to me and us to them
and what was once to what is going to be
We’re not as separate as we suppose.
And where’s the line between what’s still possessed
and what is lost? Are we to count as lost
the love and friendship that we gave and got
but have, before we’ve even died, forgot?