My husband Richard Vigilante wrote this.
Bill was our Socrates.
He lured us to his side, at first, by showing us that upsetting the
conventional wisdom was, as Socrates said, "an activity not without its
amusing side" and naturally appealing to the young.
Once he had our attention he taught us that we were in a deadly serious
game. For then as now the Sophists were serious about seizing power, and
then as now their way of doing so was to discredit the very notion of truth
and make their power the only reality.
Jaques Maritain famously said that there were never more than three schools
The idealists who believe that getting the truth was easy. These are the
conventional liberals, whom Bill gently mocked.
The nominalists, the Sophists, who deny truth altogether; these are the hard
left, the true enemy he rallied us against.
And finally the realists, who accept that the truth is out there but is
fiercely difficult to lock down.
Bill's most enduring achievement was to identify and shape conservatism as
the political expression of philosophical realism in our time
And so simultaneously, he gave us a vision of the intellectual life well
lived, and put us in the field against the great enemy of our time.
He did what Socrates dreamed of: made philosophers of citizens and citizens
I hero worshipped him. I am not ashamed to say it, because I chose my hero
well, and my life has never been the poorer for it.