Great Beginnings

Plenty of ink has been spilled over the first lines of literary masterpieces. It appears every great novel has an equally epic opening line. I was inspired to check how some central works in contemporary analytic philosophy fare in the art of beginning.

John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“In this introductory chapter I sketch some of the main ideas of the theory of justice I wish to develop.”
Rawls is not even trying. I presume he has pareto optimal reasons not to.

Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature
“Philosophers usually think of their discipline as one which discusses perennial, eternal problems–problems which arise as soon as one reflects.”
Generic, but promising.

Robert Nozick: Anarchy, State, and Utopia
“Individuals have rights, and there are things no person or group may do to them (without violating their rights).”
Well, that’s an attempt. I’m not sure whether I should add or subtract points for using parentheses within the first full sentence of a text.

And the winner is…
Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons
“Like my cat, I often simply do what I want to do.”
Full points for this one. Cat mentioned within the first three words. That’s hard to beat.