Life, Necessity, and Consecration: An Interview with Adam Miller
Life is a gift—though a gift that comes in the form of a question.
Adam Miller is Professor of Philosophy at Collin College and the author of several beloved books of Latter-day Saint thought. Wayfare editor Zachary Davis sat down with Adam in his office in McKinney, Texas to discuss the nature of life, the possibilities of hope, and Adam’s favorite ways to unwind.
What was your gateway drug to philosophy?
When I was in sixth grade—what was that, 11 years old?—I read my two first grown-up books at the same time, both big, fat 500-page books. One of them was The Book of Mormon and the other was Frank Herbert’s Dune, a really trippy, very philosophical sci-fi novel. And I fell in love with the possibility of something like philosophy—though for a long time I was more interested in literature.
Do you have a working definition of life?
Lots of times as Latter-Day Saints, we talk about this life as if it were a kind of test we have to pass in order to get to something like a real life. But I think that's probably not the best way to think about it. Life is more like a gift—though a gift that comes in the form of a question. We have to try to answer this question, but not in order to overcome or surpass the question, because life is a question. It’s the very nature of a life to pose itself as a question. And to love life and appreciate life is to love and appreciate it as a question. To be done all together with the question would be the same as being done all together with life.
I like the notion that life is responsivity. For example, a little paramecium, a little cell, which we might say has no consciousness, or at least a very, very dim consciousness, somehow has sensory capacities that allow it to be responsive to its environment in order to survive and flourish. That cell is alive, but a rock isn’t because it doesn’t respond to anything. And I see a theme in your work that's really close to this concept of responsivity, which is that the work of love is to do what is needful. And that what makes Jesus such a unique and extraordinary teacher is that he is infinitely responsive to each situation. How can we, as His disciples, become better at being responsive to the needs around us?
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