thirty-five and I thought that I had now finally solved the problem of how to work on a writing desk and yet be preoccupied with epistemology.


2.

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

Although most of us know the date and the place of our birth-mine is July 28, 1902, at a place called Himmelhof in the Ober St Veit district of Vienna-few know when and how their intellectual life began. So far as my philosophical development goes, I do remember some of its early stages. But it certainly started later than my emotional and moral development.

As a child I was, I suspect, somewhat puritanical, even priggish, though this attitude was perhaps tempered by the feeling that I had no right to sit in judgement on anybody except myself. Among my earliest memories are feelings of admiration for my elders and betters, for example for my cousin Eric Schiff, whom I greatly admired for being one year older than I, for his tidiness and, especially, for his good looks: gifts which I always regarded as important and unattainable.

One often hears it said nowadays that children are cruel by nature. I do not believe it. I was, as a child, what Americans might call a “softy”, and compassion is one of the strongest emotions I remember. It was the main component of my first experience of falling in love, which happened when I was four or five years old. I was taken to a kindergarten, and there was a beautiful little girl who was blind. My heart was torn, both by the charm of her smile and by the tragedy of her blindness. It was love at first sight. I have never forgotten her, though I saw her only once, and only for an hour or two. I was not sent to the kindergarten again; perhaps my mother noticed how much I was upset.

-3-

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