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Memorial Minutes, 2020
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James Creighton Edwards (1943–2020)

This obituary originally appeared in the Greenville News and is reprinted here with permission.

James Creighton Edwards (Jim) died Thursday, February 13, at his home in Greenville, South Carolina. Jim was diagnosed with renal cell cancer in 2006, but he was able to live virtually symptom free until this last year, thanks to dedicated medical care and great good fortune.

Jim was born October 25, 1943, in Columbia, SC, the son of Creighton Guilder and Emily Aull Edwards, but he grew up in Woodruff, SC, and despite an extraordinary career as an academic philosopher, he remained at his core a child of Woodruff, with instinctive southern courtesy, abiding good humor, and a great good will toward everyone, great and small.

Jim graduated from Furman University in 1965, majoring in English and religion, and he continued his academic work at the University of Chicago Divinity School as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, where he earned a master’s degree. There, it became clear to him that philosophy was his true vocation. He completed his PhD in philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1970, he returned to his alma mater, Furman University, as an assistant professor of philosophy, retiring as professor emeritus in 2011 after forty-one years. Jim was an important and valued faculty member, serving as department chair in philosophy, as faculty chair, and as chair of the curriculum reform committee, among many other official and unofficial duties. Jim published a number of books during his career, including Ethics without Philosophy: Wittgenstein and the Moral Life (1982), The Authority of Language: Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and the Threat of Philosophical Nihilism (1990), and The Plain Sense of Things: The Fate of Religion in an Age of Normal Nihilism (1997). But it is as an inspiring, even thrilling, teacher that scores of students remember him. They trusted him even when he challenged their most cherished beliefs, and they revered him for it. In his retirement, he organized the Philosophy Reading Group for current and retired faculty, a group dear to his heart where he did perhaps some of his best work.

Rather late in life, he became deeply interested in birds, and he amassed a life list of more than 650 North American birds, traveling to the far ends of the continent, but his favorite spots were the Ace Basin and Townville, SC. He regretted not starting earlier when he had young eyes and ears.

Jim is survived by his wife of thirty-six years, Jane Scofield Chew. His earlier marriage to Martha Crocker Dolge ended in divorce. He is also survived by his sister, Anita Edwards Ward, his niece, Noelle Waddell, and her son, Caleb Waddell. There will be a memorial service at the Daniel Chapel at Furman University on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, at 3:00 pm. No flowers, please. Gifts can be made to the Furman University Faculty Scholarship Fund, or to the Nature Conservancy of South Carolina.

Nancy Holland, 1947–2020

Dr. Nancy Holland, Professor of Philosophy Emerita at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, was born on September 3, 1947, and died peacefully January 25, 2020, two years after her cancer diagnosis. Nancy is survived by her husband, Jeffery Koon, daughter, Gwendolyn Koon, and son, Justus Koon.

She earned her BA from Stanford and PhD from UC Berkeley, and was a professor in the Philosophy Department at Hamline University for thirty-six years.

Nancy brought a presumption that every academic anywhere must do serious scholarship, that is, present work at professional conferences, publish in refereed journals, work on books, all while teaching, advising, serving on committees, and, oh yes, raising a family. Her expectation of serious scholarship—for herself and every colleague on campus—may have been her greatest gift to the institution. She set the bar high. Her modeling of professional work beyond the campus supported, encouraged, and inspired so many that conference presentations, research, and published material of the college faculty grew quickly in quality and quantity.

Professor Holland’s major works include Heidegger and the Problem of Consciousness (2018), Ontological Humility: Lord Voldemort and the Philosophers (2013), Feminist Interpretations of Martin Heidegger (2001), The Madwoman’s Reason: The Concept of the Appropriate in Ethical Thought (1998), and Is Women’s Philosophy Possible (1990).

Nancy was a superb colleague. She did whatever was needed in the department, and she did so at high quality, on time, and without complaint.

Nancy was a good friend. She was always frank and had principles by which she lived and worked, a trait seldom encountered.

- Duane L. Cady, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Hamline University

Joel J. Kupperman, 1936–2020

It is with deep sadness that I report the death of Joel Kupperman, University of Connecticut Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Emeritus. He died in Brooklyn, New York, on April 8, 2020.

Joel received both his AB and MA from the University of Chicago and his PhD from Cambridge University. He joined the Philosophy Department at the University of Connecticut in 1960. Except for visiting Trinity College as a lecturer in 1970, two years supported by NEH fellowships, and fellowships at Clare Hall, Cambridge, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, he remained at UConn until his retirement from teaching in 2013. In addition to these major national and international awards, Joel received the Faculty Excellence in Research award from the UConn Foundation in 2004.

A widely recognized and influential scholar, Joel specialized in ethics, aesthetics, and Asian philosophy. He published numerous journal articles and chapters in all three fields. Two early books resist subjectivism in ethics (Ethical Knowledge [London: Geo. Allen & Unwin, 1970, reprint Routledge, 2002] and The Foundations of Morality [London and Boston: Geo. Allen & Unwin, 1983, reissue from Routledge, forthcoming, 2022]). In his monographs, Joel’s longstanding interest in Chinese philosophy first became prominent in Character (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991) and Value… And What Follows (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Joel’s scholarship in Asian philosophy long predated the recent professional awakening to non-Western philosophical traditions. Initially, he studied Chinese philosophy with H. G. Creel at the University of Chicago; in 1967, he traveled to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan to continue his studies; no later than 1985 (an exact date is unavailable during the pandemic closures), Joel was offering an introductory course on Asian philosophy; and sometime thereafter, he originated an upper-level undergraduate course on Chinese philosophy and a graduate seminar that covered Indian, Chinese, and Japanese philosophy. His scholarship and pedagogical initiatives were visionary. Before long, universities everywhere were scrambling to develop “multicultural” courses, and comparative philosophy conferences grew in frequency.

Regarded as a classic by many in the field, Learning from Asian Philosophy nimbly integrates insights from classical Chinese and Indian philosophy as well as Western philosophy into nuanced accounts of the self, choice, moral psychology, moral requirements, and interpersonal communication (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999; Chinese translation, Renmin Press, Beijing, 2009). That Joel was invited to give the keynote lecture at a conference honoring the ninetieth anniversary of the Peking University Philosophy Department is but one measure of the importance of this book.

In addition, Joel published books that not only would be valuable to professional philosophers, but that also would reach college students and the larger educated public. Notable among these are Theories of Human Nature (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2010), Ethics and Qualities of Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), Six Myths about the Good Life: Thinking about What Has Value (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2006), and Classic Asian Philosophy: A Guide to the Essential Texts (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001; second edition, 2006).

Joel had a droll sense of humor that came out in department gatherings and sometimes in article titles, such as "How Values Congeal into Facts" and "Ethics for Extraterrestrials." Combined with Joel’s erudition, his talent for listening, and his measured style of speech, his sense of humor must have endeared him to students. Professor Asha Bhandary tells this story:

I had my first child, Alma, while I was writing my dissertation, and when she was about 2 years old, she had a dollhouse in which she had two characters, [another professor] and “Joel Kupperman.” She frequently said their names in her 2-year-old voice, which I can still evoke in my memory.

That one of Alma’s dolls was called Joel Kupperman surely mirrored her mother’s great esteem for him.

When it became possible for Chinese students to come to the US to study, Joel attracted some of them to the UConn Philosophy Department. Like all the graduate students, they studied Western philosophy. But thanks to Joel, they were also able to study Chinese philosophy. Remembering Joel, Professor Ni Peimin cites works from this tradition:

I still want to use the current tense “is,” because I feel that he is still with us. As Lao Zi says, “he who dies but is not forgotten, has longevity.” The Confucian notion of “three immortalities” applies here as well: People can become immortal by establishing virtue for other people to emulate, achievements for other people to benefit from, and words for other people to follow.

Joel received the Faculty Excellence in Teaching award from the UConn Foundation in 1973. Upon his retirement, two of his PhD students, Li Chenyang and Ni Peimin, celebrated his career by publishing a festschrift containing chapters by leading scholars ( Moral Cultivation and Confucian Character: Engaging Joel J. Kupperman [Albany NY: State University of New York Press, 2014]).

A remembrance of Joel’s life would not be complete without mention of the salutary ways in which he shaped the UConn Philosophy Department over more than fifty years. As long as I was there, our department had an exceptional ethos. Department meetings were convened on an irregular basis and only when absolutely necessary—for example, to decide on a short list of job candidates or to vote on making an offer. Nevertheless, we met every week during the semester (graduate students included) to discuss philosophy. We called these lunchtime meetings our Brown Bag series. Each meeting consisted of a twenty-minute talk on work in progress followed by a forty-minute discussion. Joel founded this tradition, and the department held its jubilee semester in fall 2019.

Another of Joel’s distinctive contributions to the department stemmed from his early and steadfast commitment to gender equity and diversity in general. For quite a while late in the twentieth century, our faculty included an unusually high percentage of women. I count myself among the beneficiaries of Joel’s openness to and support of women in professional philosophy.

Joel is survived by his wife, Karen Ordahl Kupperman, his two children, Michael Kupperman and Charlie Kupperman, and a grandchild, Ulysses Kupperman Dougherty. His colleagues and many students join me in sympathy for their loss. His singular voice and distinctive presence are irreplaceable.

- Diana Tietjens Meyers, Professor Emerita, University of Connecticut, Storrs

Charles McCracken (1933–2020)

Charles J. McCracken, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Michigan State University, died on May 4, 2020, in Santa Barbara, California. He was born in Los Angeles on April 17, 1933. After his father died while he was still a boy, Charles was raised by his mother and older sister. He attended public schools in LA and did his undergraduate studies at UCLA.

By way of the Christian temperance movement, he developed an early interest in socialism and pacifism, and he continued to protest America’s injustices and militarist adventures throughout his life. While in college, he converted briefly to Catholicism, even considering the priesthood. After what he later described as a reverse conversion experience in a French cathedral, he renounced belief in all religious doctrine, though in retirement he became active in the cultural and political activities of his local Unitarian community.

After UCLA, he studied in Paris with, among others, Paul Ricoeur and Emmanuel Levinas. While in France he met his future wife, Katherine Polutanowitsch. They married in 1956 and had two children, Theresa and Peter. Returning from France, he earned an MA at Fordham University, and then did his PhD work in philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Charles accepted a position at Michigan State University in 1965 and taught there his whole career. Well versed in many areas of philosophy, he was particularly accomplished as a historian who specialized in the early modern period. In 1983 he published the book for which he is best known, Malebranche and British Philosophy (Oxford University Press). His interest in Berkeley resulted in many articles and invited talks and in a volume (edited with I. C. Tipton), Berkeley’s Principles and Dialogues: Background Source Materials (Cambridge University Press, 2000). Among his professional associations was membership in the International Berkeley Society, and this led him to accept the position of docent one summer at Berkeley’s house in Rhode Island.

Charles was a gifted teacher, popular with both graduate and undergraduate students, and was characterized by an extraordinary breadth of knowledge, a precision of expression, and a sharpness of humor. He was much esteemed by his colleagues, being the only departmental member (in these writers’ knowledge) to be unanimously supported for department chair, a position he characteristically refused. In 1998 he received the university’s highest honor for senior faculty, the Distinguished Faculty Award. After retirement in 1999, he was further honored with an endowed annual philosophy lectureship in his name. Having had their fill of Michigan winters, he and Katherine moved to Santa Barbara, CA, where he was on occasion invited to teach courses at the Claremont Graduate University and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The McCrackens loved France and maintained an apartment in Paris, where they spent their summers, often hosting friends and colleagues as well as family. They both loved the arts, especially music, and Charles enjoyed playing the piano.

Not a disciple of any philosopher or school of philosophy, his wide knowledge of philosophy and his clear-headed and commonsense approach to philosophical problems will be missed by those of us who knew and discussed philosophy with him. We will also miss his deep humanity, his wonderful sense of humor, and his generous friendship.

- Richard Hall and Richard Peterson, Michigan State University

Harold Morick (1933–2020)

It is with great sadness and deep love that Harold Morick’s family announces that he died in the Berkshires on Friday, March 27, 2020, at the age of eighty-six. The only child of Ana Kathe and Heinrich Morick, he will forever be lovingly remembered by his wife of twenty-seven years, Jeanette, and their two daughters, Kathe and Madeleine. He will also be lovingly remembered by Dorian and Emily, his daughters from a prior marriage, and Eva, his granddaughter.

Hal received his baccalaureate degree from Brown University and his doctoral degree from Columbia University. He was a professor of philosophy at the State University of New York at Albany from 1967 to 2000, specializing in analytic philosophy, Wittgenstein, and Freud, and having published three books of philosophy. At the time of his death, he was editing a selection of essays by Sigmund Freud for a volume about Freud as a philosopher.

He loved the Berkshires, swimming, The Simpsons, and eating. He was known as “Hal” to all who loved him and hated it when his wife called him “Harold.” He accepted, without judgment, all the highs and lows life had to offer, from the movies (Late Night to Ingmar Bergman) to food (his last meal—a pulled pork sandwich with Prosecco). And no matter one’s background, age, or ethnicity, he was a great listener. He was a gentle person and therefore a steady comfort to all, especially his children. He will be profoundly missed.

A private memorial will be held. Donations in his name may be made to Austin Riggs at

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