It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Jon Altschul, associate professor of philosophy at Loyola University New Orleans. Jon was born in Evanston, Illinois, on May 18, 1981. He earned a BA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a Ph.D. from the University of California–Santa Barbara, where he completed his dissertation under the direction of Kevin Falvey. Jon joined the philosophy department at Loyola in 2009 and was awarded tenure in 2015. In the same year, he was elected president of the University Senate by his faculty colleagues. He was one of the most well-liked and well-respected faculty members at Loyola.
Jon specialized in epistemology and philosophy of mind. Much of his research (following from his dissertation) focused on epistemic justification and entitlement. His views on perceptual entitlement were central to this research and were greatly influenced by the work of Tyler Burge. Jon also published work on the bootstrapping problem, the disjunction problem, and epistemic deontologism.
Besides teaching courses in his research areas, Jon had also taught logic, metaphysics, and senior seminars in perception and in the philosophy of John Locke. He was a devoted teacher, advisor, and mentor to students in the philosophy and general studies programs.
Although Jon’s work was technically sophisticated, he was not an ivory tower philosopher, but preferred to practice philosophy on the ground. He had a knack for communicating complex philosophical ideas in clear, simple terms and was determined to take philosophy beyond the college classroom into the community. To that end, he founded the Philosopher Kids program in partnership with the Good Shepherd School, a school for underserved children in New Orleans. Jon recruited and coached Loyola students to conduct weekly after-school classes with second-graders at the school. By engaging grade-schoolers in discussions about philosophical themes taken from children’s literature, the program strives to set the proper foundation for critical thinking in young children to equip them to become more discerning thinkers. For his work with Philosopher Kids, the University Senate honored Jon with an award for Community Engagement.
Jon will be remembered as a wonderful friend, colleague, and faculty leader. As Reverend Kevin Wildes, S.J., university president, noted, "All who knew Jon remember his gentle laughter and a frequent twinkle in his eye. They also remember the care, thoughtfulness, generosity, intelligence and rigor with which he approached his research, led faculty meetings, and taught classes. Jon was well respected by colleagues and students alike."
Jon is survived by his parents, Lynn and Joel, grandmother, Esther, brother, Jason (Karen), sister, Sarah (Robert), nieces, Emma and Ellie, and nephews, James and Jamal. A memorial service for Jon was held at Loyola University on February 29. A second memorial service was held April 8 in Kenilworth, IL. Jon will be greatly missed.
- J. C. Berendzen and Constance Mui, Loyola University New Orleans
Robert James Baum, a specialist in applied ethics, passed away at the age of 74 in Baltimore on May 17th, 2016, following a long struggle with Parkinson's disease. He is survived by Barbara Ann White, his partner of 10 years; his daughter, Aimee Belser, and her family; his two nieces, Cindy Cutler Skacel and Tammy Randa, and their families; and his stepson, John Murphy, and his family.
Baum was born on October 19, 1941, and was educated at Northwestern University, earning his BA in 1963 and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Ohio State University in 1969, with a dissertation on George Berkeley's philosophy of mathematics, under the supervision of Paul Olscamp. He taught for some time at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey and at the University of Maryland at College Park, but spent most of his career at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and at the University of Florida. He spent 12 years at Rennselaer, there achieving the rank of full professor, before moving to Florida in 1981 as a new department chair. He retired in 2008, having devoted 27 years to the University of Florida.
Baum's primary research and professional service was in the area of applied ethics, especially business ethics and ethics for specific professions. With Deborah Johnson and Norman Bowie he co-founded the Business and Professional Ethics Journal in 1981 and was co-editor through 1988, after which he was sole editor until 2010, when the journal was acquired by the Philosophy Documentation Center, which currently publishes it in cooperation with the Institute for Business and Professional Ethics at DePaul University. In 1991, Baum founded a second publication, Professional Ethics: A Multidisciplinary Journal, to provide a venue for what he saw as important work deserving exposure that could not fit comfortably under the purview of the first journal. This publication was folded back into the first one in 2003. Both were sponsored for a time at the Center for Applied Philosophy and Ethics that Baum directed at the University of Florida.
His published research includes a short monograph, Ethics and Engineering Curricula, several edited anthologies on ethics, an edited anthology in the philosophy of mathematics, and many articles in such journals as Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, Teaching Philosophy, and Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association. He gave more than 80 lectures at conferences, and himself organized conferences on professional ethics, the ethics of health care, the ethics of finance, and a special conference in honor of R. M. Hare. He had an overriding concern with bringing philosophical expertise to bear on practical problems, as also evidenced by his serving from 1974 to 1976 as the director of the Ethical and Human Value Implications of Science and Technology Program sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
This concern extended to his teaching. He authored a textbook on logic that has gone through four editions, first published in 1975 and still in print today with Oxford University Press. As one of his former teaching assistants reports, he made great efforts to make his lectures engaging to students (even in as dry a subject as logic) and worked to connect the issues in his ethics courses with those students would encounter outside the classroom.
Outside of academic philosophy, Baum pursued a secondary avocation as a collector of antique kilims—flat weaves created by nomadic tribes in Europe, Asia, and Africa. In the last decade of his time as a professor, he was often invited to speak at conferences on kilims, and his collection numbered over 800 pieces, a collection that will be broken up and donated to museums around the country. Some of his more valuable pieces were shown at the University of Baltimore Law School's Gallery of Art in an exhibit entitled "19th Century Women's Abstract Art."
Baum was a relatively quiet person, thoughtful and mostly keeping to himself. His character is perhaps well portrayed by something we learned in the course of preparing this notice. He was very fond of picking blueberries and would arrange his travel so that he would be home when they were in season. He would drive to different farms to pick blueberries and prepare them with tofu, a dish he reported to be delicious.
- Department of Philosophy, University of Florida
Professor Dale Jacquette of the University of Bern in Switzerland died suddenly and unexpectedly on Monday, August 22, 2016, at the age of 63. After graduating from Oberlin in 1975 with high honors in philosophy, Jacquette earned his Ph.D. at Brown University in 1983 with a doctoral thesis on the logic of intention under the direction of Roderick Chisholm. Thus began an amazingly productive career which saw the publication of a long series of informative and influential books appearing at a rate exceeding one per year, and covering a vast range of philosophically salient topics in logic, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mind. Of special interest to Jacquette were Meinong, Russell, and Frege—to each of whose work he dedicated several books. His breadth of vision is indicted by the fact that Schopenhauer and Wittgenstein also figured in his pantheon. Beyond his own writings, Jacquette rendered service to the profession in various important editorial projects, including a term as editor of the American Philosophical Quarterly (2002–2005).
There is a long tradition of transatlantic migration of European scholars into American universities, but movement in the reverse direction is exceedingly rare. Jacquette became one of its few instances when he moved from Penn State University to the University of Bern in 2008. His transit betokened the deep appreciation his European colleagues had for his extensive work on modern Germanophile logic and philosophy.
Jacquette was a devoted and indefatigable researcher possessed of a keen insight into fundamentals and a tenacious determination to get to the heart of the matter. His premature death left several important projects in a state of near-readiness for publication, including a monumental philosophical biography of Gottlob Frege in preparation for Cambridge University Press.
An accessible and friendly person who always manifested a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, Dale Jacquette had accumulated a wide circle of admiring and dedicated friends and associates. His departure is a great loss both to philosophy itself and to the philosophical community.
- Nicholas Rescher, University of Pittsburgh
Professor Emeritus Haig Khatchadourian was born in East Jerusalem, Palestine, in 1925 and died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2016. He was married for more than 61 years to Arpiné Khatchadourian (Yaghlian), who preceded him in death in 2012. He is survived by two sons, a daughter, and two grandsons.
Professor Khatchadourian earned his BA and MA from the American University of Beirut and his Ph.D. from Duke University. In addition to numerous (at least 130) journal articles in Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art, Epistemology and Ontology, Ethics, Social Philosophy, and Philosophy of Religion, he has published fourteen original books in philosophy: The Coherence Theory of Truth: A Critical Evaluation; A Critical Study in Method; The Concept of Art; Music, Film and Art; Philosophy of Language and Logical Theory; The Morality of Terrorism; Community and Communitarianism; The Quest for Peace between Israel and the Palestinians; War, Terrorism, Genocide, and the Quest for Peace – Contemporary Problems in Applied Ethics; Meaning and Criteria: With Applications to Various Philosophical Problems; Philosophical Reflections: Philosophical Reflections of a Minute Philosopher; Truth: Its Nature, Criteria, and Conditions; and, most recently, How To Do Things with Silence (September 2015, DeGruyter).
In addition, Professor Khatchadourian published Shadows of Time, The Raven and the Cardinal: Poems of Remembrance and Celebration, and a Verse Play, Valentio Di’ Buondelmonte, A Tragedy in Five Acts. The play, The Raven and the Cardinal, and Thoughts, Impressions, Reminiscences (1946–2013) have also been published as e-books. He also edited his wife Arpiné’s posthumously published book, David of Sassoun: An Introduction to the Study of the Armenian Epic (July 2016, Wipf and Stock)
Before joining the philosophy faculty as a tenured full professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1969 where he taught until his retirement in 1994, Professor Khatchadourian taught at Melkonian Educational Institute in Nicosia, Cyprus (1950–51), at Haigazian College (now University) in Beirut (1951–52), and he was a professor of philosophy at the American University of Beirut, where he taught for fifteen years, culminating in his promotion to full professorship in 1967–68. During 1967–68, he was a visiting professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. In 1968–69, he taught at the University of Southern California, and from 1969 on, he taught at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee as a tenured full professor. In 1976–77, he was a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (Semester II) and was distinguished visiting professor at the University of New Mexico–Albuquerque in 1978–79.
Professor Khatchadourian’s areas of specialization were aesthetics and philosophy of the arts; normative ethics, including feminist and environmental ethics and political ethics (ethics of terrorism, revolution, war, and peace); value theory; philosophy of language; contemporary analytical philosophy, and social philosophy. His areas of competence were metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of law, and history of modern philosophy.
Professor Khatchadourian’s selected honors and awards included Phi Beta Kappa, Graduate Division, Duke University (1956); J. Walker Tomb Prize, Princeton University (1958); Harvard International Seminar (June–July 1962); Prize, Essay Contest, Ararat (1964); Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pittsburgh (1963–64); Outstanding Educators of America Award (1973); Senior Fellow, Center for Twentieth Century Studies, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (1975–76, Semester II); Charter Member, Phi Kappa Phi; Phi Beta Kappa-Eta Chapter; Liberal Arts Fellow in Philosophy and Law, Harvard Law School (1982–83); University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Alumni Association Award for Teaching Excellence (1987); Seminar on Postmodernism: A Philosophical Genealogy Readings in Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida, University of California, Riverside (June–August, 1994); Fellow, Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture, and Commerce (FRSA), England (1994–2016); Ernest Spaights Plaza Award, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (2005).
Memberships in learned societies included the American Philosophical Association; American Society for Aesthetics; Philosophy of Time Society; Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society; International Society for the Study of Argumentation; Armenian Academy of Philosophy; International Academy of Philosophy; Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia; and the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce.
At the time of his death, he was working diligently on two books: his autobiography, Leaves from My Life, Volume I, and a book on “World Tragedies: Drama.” Also, to use his own words, he has “reams and reams of writing” already completed that need to be published.
Haig Khatchadourian was an exemplary man who dedicated his life to peace, truth, and beauty. He was loved and admired by all who knew him.
- Sonia Khatchadourian, Department of English, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Thomas Anthony Losoncy was born January 17, 1939, and passed away on June 12, 2016. He received his bachelor of arts degree in 1961 from Sacred Heart College in Detroit, his master of arts degree in 1963 from the University of Detroit, and his Ph.D. in 1972 from the University of Toronto, writing on “The Nature of the Intellectual Soul in the Teachings of Giles of Rome.” Tom’s thesis supervisor was A. C. Pegis, and his advisor was A. A. Maurer. Tom began his career teaching philosophy at Villanova University in 1967, retiring in 2005 as associate professor. For 38 years, he was intent that freshmen receive the best possible introduction to philosophic thinking. In this way, he brought his love for the history of philosophy to thousands of students. In addition to philosophy students, Tom also taught students studying medicine, law, and religion.
A recognized and highly regarded scholar in the field of medieval philosophy, Tom Losoncy’s research focused on Saints Anselm and Augustine, but he also appreciated and taught courses in Greek philosophy, medieval philosophy, ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of human nature. An author and editor with more than 30 scholarly works in the field of medieval philosophy, Professor Losoncy delivered numerous papers on Saint Anselm at conferences held in the United States and Europe (including Italy, England, France, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Germany, and Hungary). Two of these papers he gave at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. He served on the International Saint Anselm Committee and was U.S. National secretary for the 5th International Saint Anselm Conference in 1985. Among his scholarly works may be found “St. Augustine,” in Ethics in the History of Western Philosophy (St. Martin's Press, 1989), 60–97; “The Soul-Body Problem in the Thirteenth Century: Countering the Trend Toward Dualism,” Studies in Medieval Culture XII (1978): 91–96; “St. Anselm’s Rejection of the ‘Ontological Argument’—A Review of the Occasion and Circumstances,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, LXIV(1990): 373–85; and “Plato’s Meno Argument for Recollection: Correct and Incorrect,” Methexis (Etudes Neoplatoniciennes Presenteees au Professeur Evanghelos A. Moutsopoulos) (Athenes: Centre International d'Etudes Platoniciennes et Aristoleciennes, 1992), 60–66.
In addition to his own scholarly work, Tom was a generous colleague and mentor. He is perhaps best remembered as the founder and principal organizer (for nearly three decades) of the annual International Conference on Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies held at Villanova University. Tom envisioned the PMR as a “working conference,” where scholars would roll up their sleeves and work through an idea with colleagues. He was especially dedicated to giving younger scholars a venue to present their work at the PMR conference.
Loving husband and father, Tom was also deeply involved in his church and his community. He played the organ and sang, contributed to parish leadership, and taught in the religious education programs. Tom was proud of his Hungarian heritage and, recalling the era when smoking was a common feature of faculty meetings, colleagues remember his affinity for cigars.
Professor Thomas Losoncy’s love for the history of philosophy and dedication to passing that love on to others created an immense impact on both the world of philosophy and his local community.
- On behalf of the Department of Philosophy, Villanova University
Daniel D. Merrill died on March 13, 2016, after a brief hospitalization. The Oberlin community will greatly miss his wisdom and friendliness.
Dan was a central member of the Oberlin Philosophy Department from 1962 until his retirement in 1998. He was a longtime professor of philosophy who also served as chair of the department from 1965–1968 and from 1982–1986. He published a number of articles on logic and the history of logic in leading journals as well as a book, Augustus De Morgan and the Logic of Relations. He also organized a large number of philosophical conferences, the Oberlin Colloquium in Philosophy, and edited the proceedings for publication.
Dan was born in South Bend, Indiana, in 1932, and attended Princeton University, where he majored in mathematics. In his senior year, he developed an interest in the philosophy of mathematics and logic. A young professor at Princeton, Hilary Putnam, encouraged him to continue his studies in philosophy, and he entered the graduate program at the University of Minnesota where he worked with Wilfred Sellars and Herbert Feigl. After completing his Ph.D. with a dissertation on The Theory of Logical Constants, he taught for three years at Knox College in Illinois before becoming an assistant professor at Oberlin College in Ohio in 1962. He was promoted to associate professor in 1967 and to professor in 1975. At Oberlin, Dan regularly taught courses in logic, philosophy of science, modern philosophy, philosophy of religion, and theory of knowledge.
Dan served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1970–1973. He was a highly respected member of the Oberlin faculty who was regularly elected to the most important faculty committees. He had a well-deserved reputation for dealing with college issues in a rational, non-ideological way. Dan would patiently listen to opposing viewpoints and form his positions on the basis of the available evidence. He was a paragon of reasonable thinking in that he was willing to change his initial position if he was given sufficiently good reasons.
Dan’s major research interests were in logic, the history of logic, and the philosophy of science. His 1990 book, Augustus De Morgan and the Logic of Relations, concerned the development in the nineteenth century of a formal notation for expressing relations and of rules for deriving consequences from statements about relations. From ancient times, geometrical reasoning was considered a paradigm of logical thinking, but until De Morgan developed a formal logic for relations, formal logic was unable to express geometrical reasoning. Dan’s book examines the history of De Morgan’s attempts to create a formal logic that can deal with these issues. He was awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies for research for this book.
Dan served on several committees of the American Philosophical Association: the Committee on the Status and Future of the Profession (1979–1982), the Central Division Nominating Committee (1970, 1984), and the Central Division Program Committee (1983).
Dan was a great colleague who was regularly available to discuss philosophical and college issues. I would sometimes stop by his office to talk, and he was always ready to contribute insights. After his retirement Dan continued to be interested in philosophical issues; he would attend the lectures of visiting speakers and raise interesting questions during discussion periods.
Dan is survived by his beloved wife, Marly, his son, Steve, and his daughter, Karen.
- Peter K. McInerney, Oberlin College
Bill Stine was born to a Lutheran minister in Allentown, PA, on March 29, 1936. He attended Haverford College and won a Fulbright Scholarship to Göttingen University and a Rockefeller Brothers Theological Fellowship to Harvard Divinity School. But apparently philosophy was Bill’s calling, for he earned a Ph.D. from the Harvard philosophy department in 1969.
While at Harvard Bill met and married Gail Caldwell, a fellow graduate student, and both took positions at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan; Bill had previously taught at Williams College. Sadly, Gail died young (the Wayne State department annually holds a Gail Stine Memorial Lecture).
Bill later married Marcy Chanteaux, now cellist emeritus in the Detroit Symphony, who survives him. Bill and Marcy loved opera and frequently visited the opera capitals of Europe. A high point was visiting the Wagner opera mecca, Bayreuth, to hear seven Wagner operas in 2010.
Bill’s philosophical interests were primarily early modern philosophy, especially Kant, and Dewey’s pragmatism. He published, among other papers, “Dewey’s Theory of Knowledge” in The Monist (1973), “Transcendental Arguments” in Metaphilosophy (1972), and “Self-Consciousness in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason” in Philosophical Studies (1975).
Mostly Bill gave yeoman service to Wayne State. He served as chair of the philosophy department, directed the undergraduate honors program, chaired the humanities council, was occasional academic representative to the board of governors, and was elected to academic senate. He directed two doctoral dissertations and served on many doctoral committees.
Bill was old school, both in dress and demeanor. He wore a bow tie every day. His lectures used long, formal, perfectly grammatical sentences. He would not have been out of place in a nineteenth century philosophy department. But he served both undergraduates and graduates well and was a devoted friend to many (including the present writer).
- Robert Yanal, Professor Emeritus, Wayne State University
I write with great sadness to inform you that professor of philosophy James “Jim” Stramel passed away on Thursday, March 17, from complications caused by leukemia. He was fifty-six. This is a huge loss for Santa Monica College, as Jim was known—by colleagues and students alike—as “one-of-a-kind” and “impossible to replace.” He began teaching philosophy at SMC as a part-time faculty member in August 1992 and was hired as a full-time faculty member in August 1999.
Jim was born in Kansas on April 5, 1960. He was raised by his mother, Dorothy Miller. He often joked about the fact that he was from Kansas and his mother’s name was Dorothy.
“I was so proud of him—for a man raised without his father, Jim did pretty darn well,” Dorothy said. “Even at three years old, he knew he was going someplace, he was just amazing.” A year and a half ago, Jim’s mother—then recently widowed—moved to Southern California to live with Jim in his newly purchased house, something he thought he would never have. She recalls how he would get down on his hands and knees to tend to the beautiful yard he designed. “There wasn’t a weed in this place!” she said.
His mother and colleagues remember Jim as a great teacher and someone who cared deeply about his students. Jim attended the University of Kansas and later obtained his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Southern California. His area of specialization was ethics, and his dissertation was titled Gay Virtue: The Ethics of Disclosure.
He was a proponent of virtue ethics, which originated with Aristotle. He was an atheist, but he argued tirelessly that ethics does not require religion. He believed that humans have the capacities necessary to live well together, especially through the use of critical thinking and care for others.
“He taught these things with skill, good humor, and great success,” remembers philosophy professor Amber Katherine. She co-taught a class with Jim on the philosophy behind Star Trek, which was publicized in a Los Angeles Times article. “He taught by example, striving to live by the highest ethical ideals.”
Political science professor Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein remembers visiting Jim in the hospital a week before he passed away. Jim was concerned about missing his classes and not being able to serve on the department’s faculty hiring committee. He shared with Richard that he never knew someone could love him as much as his boyfriend, Mark, and that he felt “blessed.” Richard also recalls how Jim made sure the department benefitted from his green thumb, often bringing trees and plants for the department.
Jim served as faculty advisor to the student-run philosophy club many times. He served on the Academic Senate, chairing the Professional Ethics Committee for several years and contributing vastly to the development of SMC’s ethics statement.
Jim is survived by his mother, Dorothy Miller; and siblings, Richard, Jeffery, Janet, and Phyllis. At this time, there is no memorial or celebration of life planned. We will keep you informed of any future arrangements.
My deepest and heartfelt sympathies go out to Jim’s family, his colleagues, students, and friends. I know that Santa Monica College will never forget Jim, and that his contributions will forever be a part of what is best about this college and the world.
Note: The photos of Jim include his friends and colleagues Amber Katherine and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein.
- Kathryn E. Jeffery, Superintendent/President, Santa Monica College
On March 3, 2016, Joseph Norio Uemura “shufflel'd off this mortall coile.” As with Hamlet, this event must give us pause.
His remarkable life had two major aspects. The first is recorded in words and visual images in his autobiography published under the title The Insatiable Search for Truth [IST] (edited by Steve LeBeau, Autobiography, Inc., Saint Paul, Minnesota, 2015). His account of the experience of the Japanese-Americans who suffered so much and so unjustly in the twentieth century sears the conscience and the consciousness of all who are truthfully following the events related to the 2016 presidential election process. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Roosevelt called for the evacuation of all Japanese people from the West Coast. Maye Mitsuye Oye (who became Joe’s wife in 1949) and her family were sent to Tule Lake, an internment camp in northern California. Although both Joe and Maye were born in Oregon, often they were not treated as full and equal citizens of the United States. Joe’s father was a Methodist minister first on the West Coast and then in Colorado where the entire Uemura family became a central part of the Japanese-American spiritual community. Joe recalls “our Kristallnacht”—the smashing of most of the stained glass windows of his father’s church—the Japanese Methodist Episcopal Church in Denver, which took place shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In the midst of disturbing recent political events, I asked Joe whether it has ever been this bad. He said, “It has always been this bad.” After graduating from University of Denver, Joe studied theology at Iliff School of Theology and became an ordained minister of the Methodist Church.
In 2000 Maye died from complications related to a fall. At a meeting of the library committee of the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church on September 11, 2001, he met Nancy Whiteside, whom he married in that same church three years later. Joe himself performed several marriages, including some of his students and even his daughter, Charissa, who married Kristin Turnblom in 2013 when same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota. The beloved community expanded over several decades as his children matured. His son, Wesley, became a professor of Japanese history; he married Makiko Sasaki from Japan and then adopted Melina Mei, who was born in China.
The second aspect spawned his career as a professor of philosophy and a mentor to dozens of us who were fortunate to be his students. Although he had earned a master’s degree and completed the coursework for a doctorate in theology, he received a fellowship from Iliff that would pay tuition at any major graduate school, allowing him to switch to philosophy, the subject matter he really preferred. He began his graduate work at Colombia University in the early 1950s when the influence of John Dewey was still strong and John Herman Randall Jr. was a major force in the department. At that time Naturalism was popular at Columbia, but it was the ancient Greeks who became central to Joe, who preferred to call himself a “Greek Naturalist.” Randall helped him reconsider the way Plato had been interpreted and set him on the Platonic path he never left. In his book Reflections on the Mind of Plato: Six Dialogues (Agora Publications, 2004), Joe summarized his approach to Plato who, he insisted, was not a Platonist: “I have made four principles as obvious as I can: (1) putting aside ‘Platonism,’ (2) attending to the ‘Method’ of the subject of the dialogue itself, not some spurious ‘Socratic method,’ (3) attending to the argument of the dialogue itself, and (4) allowing the Platonic ‘conclusion’ to speak for itself. So, what indeed was Plato if he was not a Platonist? He was first and foremost a searcher after the ‘natural integrity’ of all things, an ontologist, and a philosopher par excellence.”
His teaching career at Westminster College, Morningside College, and Hamline University extended from 1953 to 1993. In his final years at Hamline, he was appointed to the Hanna Chair of Philosophy. In retrospect, he said that he had probably picked the right time to retire because of the widespread trend in colleges to, as he put it, become vocational schools rather than focusing on the “useless liberal arts.” He also realized that he was “losing the war in his fight to preserve the classical ideal of philosophy.” Contrary to his gentle demeanor and the disarming laugh that accompanied his most cutting remarks, Joe never hid his true opinion. “The trend toward diversity and multicultural perspectives is very important and laudable, for I as much as anyone understand the right of each person to be respected regardless of gender or ethnicity. However, I don’t think the resulting ideas of this movement happen to be philosophy” (IST, 158). That is the same tough-minded kind of critique that prevailed in his classrooms and in the hundreds of letters and conversations with his former students that took place after their graduation. He continued to meet us at the APA (which he attended almost every year from the time he began teaching). We embraced those annual exchanges even though we knew his evaluation of our intellectual and professional choices and decisions might be devastating.
It would be difficult to find a philosophy professor anywhere with as many former students who have continued their education by doing graduate work in philosophy. In the appendix to The Insatiable Search for Truth, more than 100 such students are listed; several of them have subsequently earned a Ph.D. in philosophy and have held tenured positions. When asked about the importance of publishing, Joe used to say that he planned to “publish posthumously.” At first I took that as a joke, but then I began to realize that his real legacy is to be found in the souls of his former students, his friends, and his true colleagues. Socrates never published a word, but the influence of his “soul-tending” has remained for almost twenty-five centuries.
- Albert A. Anderson, Babson College