Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Miguel León-Portilla (1926-2019)

Miguel León-Portilla, emeritus professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and “the world’s foremost authority on Náhuatl philology and philosophy,” has died. Professor León-Portilla was known for his philosophical, historical, anthropological work on, and his translations of, Nahuatl philosophy, history, and literature, producing hundreds of articles and nearly fifty books. He joined the faculty of UNAM in 1957. The many honors he received over his long career include a Living Legend Award from the U.S. Library of Congress, the Belisario Domínguez Medal of Honor (the Mexican Senate’s highest honor), the Elías Sourasky Award (a national award for work in the social sciences), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and “countless” honorary doctorates. From 1987 to 1992, he was Mexico’s delegate to UNESCO, In an obituary published at the UNAM site, León-Portilla is credited with “giving voice to the vanquished,” beginning “a movement to understand and revalue the literature in [Nahuatl], not only that of the pre-Columbian era, but also the current one, which is spoken by more than 1.5 million people.” (via Sergio A. Gallegos Ordorica) The post Miguel León-Portilla (1926-2019) appeared first on Daily [More]

Myles Burnyeat (1939-2019)

Miles Burnyeat, emeritus fellow at Oxford University’s All Souls College and emeritus professor of philosophy at Cambridge University’s Robinson College, has died.   Professor Burnyeat was well-known for his work in ancient philosophy. In a speech honoring him in 2012, Sarah Broadie (St. Andrews) said: In classical studies, especially in the study of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, Myles Burnyeat’s name is a byword for extraordinary humanistic achievement. Students of ancient thought at every level and in many countries are beholden to his example, in teaching as in research. His expertise ranges wide and deep over material stretching from the pre-Socratic philosophers, to the great classical and Hellenistic figures, and on through a vast cavalcade of successors into late antiquity. Our grasp and appreciation of just about every shape and movement of thought in this thousand year sweep of philosophy has been informed, invigorated, and in some cases seriously corrected by Myles Burnyeat’s work. Professor Burnyeat was an undergraduate at Cambridge University and a graduate student at University College London (under the supervision of Bernard Williams). His first teaching appointment was at UCL, in 1964. In 1978 he took up an appointment at Cambridge, and then in 1996 he became a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is the author of many works, including The Theaetetus of Plato, A Map of Metaphysics Zeta, Aristotle’s Divine Intellect, and The Original [More]

André Gallois (1945-2019) (updated)

André Norman Gallois, emeritus professor of philosophy at Syracuse University, died earlier this month. Professor Gallois was known for his work in metaphysics (especially the metaphysics of identity), philosophy of mind, and epistemology. In addition to many articles on these topics, he authored the books The World Without, The Mind Within (Cambridge, 1996), Occasions of Identity: A Study in the Metaphysics of Identity (Oxford, 1998), and The Metaphysics of Identity (Routledge, 2016). Professor Gallois studied philosophy at the University of Sussex and the University of Oxford, before taking up his first teaching position in 1971 at the University of Florida. He then moved to Australia, teaching initially at Monash University and then for many years at the University of Queensland. In 1997 he moved to Keele University, and then to Syracuse in 2002. In a post about him, Eric Schliesser (Amsterdam) writes: “André had firm views about what counts as philosophy that I sometimes thought too traditional. But once an issue was being analyzed, one could not imagine a gentler and more encouraging companion in shared, all-absorbing philosophical inquiry.” You can learn more about Professor Gallois’ work here. UPDATE (9/16/19): There is a detailed and personal obituary here. The post André Gallois (1945-2019) (updated) appeared first on Daily [More]

André Gallois (1945-2019)

André Norman Gallois, emeritus professor of philosophy at Syracuse University, died earlier this month. Professor Gallois was known for his work in metaphysics (especially the metaphysics of identity), philosophy of mind, and epistemology. In addition to many articles on these topics, he authored the books The World Without, The Mind Within (Cambridge, 1996), Occasions of Identity: A Study in the Metaphysics of Identity (Oxford, 1998), and The Metaphysics of Identity (Routledge, 2016). Professor Gallois studied philosophy at the University of Sussex and the University of Oxford, before taking up his first teaching position in 1971 at the University of Florida. He then moved to Australia, teaching initially at Monash University and then for many years at the University of Queensland. In 1997 he moved to Keele University, and then to Syracuse in 2002. In a post about him, Eric Schliesser (Amsterdam) writes: “André had firm views about what counts as philosophy that I sometimes thought too traditional. But once an issue was being analyzed, one could not imagine a gentler and more encouraging companion in shared, all-absorbing philosophical inquiry.” You can learn more about Professor Gallois’ work here. The post André Gallois (1945-2019) appeared first on Daily [More]

John N. Williams (1952-2019)

John N. Williams, a philosopher who spent much of his career working in Singapore, and who had just last year taken up a position as professor of philosophy at Nazarbayev University, has died.  Professor Williams held appointments at School of Social Sciences at Singapore Management University, the National University of Singapore, the University of West Indies, and was a visiting fellow at Rhodes University. He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Hull. He had interests in epistemology, philosophy of religion, applied ethics, and logical paradox, and was known for his work on Moore’s Paradox. A group of philosophers from Singapore have authored an obituary, in which they remember him as “ever-inventive, witty, and humorous” and as “a brilliant, funny, gregarious, and humble man.” The full obituary is here. You can learn more about his work here. (via Michael Pelczar) The post John N. Williams (1952-2019) appeared first on Daily [More]

Barry Stroud (1935-2019) (updated)

Barry Stroud, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, died last week. Professor Stroud was known for his work in epistemology and metaphysics, particularly on philosophical skepticism, as well as on Hume and other figures in the history of philosophy. Stroud received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and his undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto. He took up an assistant professorship at UC Berkeley at 1961, retiring in 2016 as the Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor of Philosophy. UPDATE: “His body of work, his influence on generations of students, his imprint on the character of our department, the example that he set of the purest philosophical inquiry—all of it is beyond reckoning” — from a brief memorial notice posted at the UC Berkeley Department of Philosophy site. UPDATE (8/19/19): “Rather than taking it for granted that we understand what philosophical problems are and so can set ourselves to the task of solving them, Stroud repeatedly called attention to the possibility that philosophers lack a proper understanding of what we ourselves are doing” — from a philosophical obituary for Barry Stroud by John Schwenkler (Florida State) at 3 Quarks Daily. The post Barry Stroud (1935-2019) (updated) appeared first on Daily [More]

Agnes Heller (1929-2019)

Agnes Heller, a prolific Hungarian philosopher who as a child lost much of her family in the Holocaust and as a professor at the University of Budapest lost her job because she refused to testify that her mentor, György Lukács, committed political “crimes”, has died. Having been able to obtain a position at the Hungarian Academy, Professor Heller, fearing political persecution, left Hungary in the late 1970s and took up a position at La Trobe University in Australia, and in 1986 moved to the United States to become a professor at The New School for Social Research. Known for her writings on politics and political theory, social, and moral philosophy, aesthetics, and other subjects, Professor Heller was the recipient of many honors, including the Széchenyi Prize (1995), the Sonning Prize (2006), the Goethe Medal (2010), and the Wallenberg Medal (2014). She died last Friday, age 90, while going for a swim. There have been several obituaries written for her elsewhere, including at Reuters, Hungary Today, Deutsche Welle, Le Monde. The post Agnes Heller (1929-2019) appeared first on Daily [More]

Daniel Callahan (1930-2019)

Daniel Callahan, co-founder and longtime director of the Hastings Center, the first-ever bioethics research institute, has died. Dr. Callahan was known as one of the founders of contemporary biomedical ethics research, and the Hastings Center he created with Willard Gaylin has served as the home to many influential figures in the field. A prolific author, Dr. Callahan’s own research covered a wide range of subjects, from abortion to euthanasia, embryo research to elder care, autonomy to the common good, health care policy to the idea of a good death, and much more. Dr. Callahan was an undergraduate at Yale, received his MA from Georgetown, and earned his PhD at Harvard. During his time at Harvard he became editor of Commonweal, a Catholic magazine, but later left the Catholic Church, traveled the world to study how different cultures thought about and regulated abortion, and in 1969 launched the Hastings Center (originally called the Institute for Society, Ethics, and Life Sciences). Straddling the academic and non-academic worlds, Dr. Callahan may be thought of as one of the world’s most influential public philosophers. As Mildred Z. Solomon puts it in a detailed obituary of Dr. Callahan that she wrote for the Hastings Center: When Callahan began his philosophical career in the 1950s, many philosophers in American universities were doing work in the analytic tradition, far from the public square. At that time, the philosophers who did broach policy questions [More]

John Gardner (1965-2019)

“Uncontroversial ideas need not less but more critical scrutiny, since they generally get such an easy ride.” Those are the words of John Gardner, Professor of Law and Philosophy and Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University, who died last week at age 54. Professor Gardner worked on a wide range of topics in philosophy of law, moral philosophy, and political philosophy. Prior to becoming a fellow of All Souls, he held Oxford’s Chair of Jurisprudence, and before that he was Reader in Legal Philosophy at King’s College London, and held other positions at Oxford. His books include From Personal Life to Private Law (2018), Law as a Leap of Faith: And Other Essays on Law in General (2012), Offences and Defences: Selected Essays in the Philosophy of Criminal Law (2007), and a forthcoming book which he completed prior to his death from cancer called Torts and Other Wrongs. Annalise Acorn (Alberta) has written an obituary for Professor Gardner, posted at Oxford University’s site, describing in detail his life and work. His work is characterized by reverence for rationality and an abiding sense of the value of the human capacity to give reasons and take responsibility. The concept of duty played a central role in his philosophy. Likewise, he held a deep personal conviction that, not just the substance, but the joy of life lay in the fulfillment of duty… He was uncommonly generous in his contributions to college life both at Univ and All Souls. He was [More]

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