The Mysterious Millionaire Philosopher

This is certainly a way to get noticed in the philosophy world:

The institute’s letter claimed that a “very substantial sum” had been earmarked to help contribute to “the revival of traditional metaphysics.” Given the number of philosophers involved, that sum was at least in the neighborhood of $125,000. Who could afford to spend that much money on philosophy? And of those who could, who would want to? No one had a clue.

The institute, for its part, was maddeningly secretive. Many of the philosophers spoke by telephone with Steklis, who refused to disclose any information about the author of the manuscript, the institute’s funding, or her superiors. (“She made these mysterious references to ‘the board,'” Zimmerman remembers.) As instructed, the philosophers downloaded “Coming to Understanding” from the institute’s Web site. Then, with a collective sense of puzzlement and excited disbelief, they awaited the arrival of their contracts in the mail.


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