ITHACA, N.Y. — Michele M. Moody-Adams’s father was a schoolteacher passionate about classical music, and Sunday afternoons at their home on the South Side of Chicago, he would put some opera on the stereo and quiz her.
“I had to identify the aria, the act, the scene, the singer,” Dr. Moody-Adams remembered as she sat surrounded by books in her office here at Cornell University. “He held me to a very high standard.”
In an interview days after her appointment, Dr. Moody-Adams was philosophical, which is fitting, considering her doctoral dissertation at Harvard, “Moral Philosophy Naturalized: Morality and Mitigated Skepticism in Hume.” (That would be David Hume, the 18th-century philosopher.) “I know that I’ve had a lot of good fortune in my life,” she said. “But you have to be ready to take advantage of good luck.”