Silber’s biography itself is a kind of moral fable that frequently resembles “Jack the Giant Killer.” Born short and with a stunted arm in Texas, he was the son of a German-Jewish immigrant architect father and a devout Texas Presbyterian schoolteacher mother who had to support her unemployed husband and children during the Depression. If his devoutly religious home was poor, he apparently never felt it was. Academically brilliant, and talented in painting and music, he graduated from Trinity University in Texas, tried seminary at Yale before turning to philosophy, in which he took a Ph.D. at Yale, taught there, and became a distinguished Kant scholar, spending a year teaching at the University of Bonn in 1959. It was only while in Germany that he first realized that his father was Jewish and that one of his aunts had been killed at Auschwitz, facts that would lead to his fine 1985 essay “Kant at Auschwitz.”
Read it all.