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News

News: Winter 1995/96

Deaths

Murray MacBeath

Died on 1st October. Murray MacBeath was well known for his work on the philosophy of time but also worked on the philosophy of religion. He taught at the University of Stirling.

Gilles Deleuze

Depressed by a long illness, Deleuze jumped from the window of his Paris apartment on 4th November. He was regarded by some (including Michel Foucault) as the greatest French philosopher of this century. Deleuze wrote 25 books of his own and was coauthor, with his long-standing ally Felix Guattari, of another seven. Their most famous joint production was Anti-Oedipus, which attacked psychoanalysis and Marxism and celebrated desire for its ability to constructively disrupt the established order of things. Deleuze reacted against an early interest in Hegel and Heidegger and wrote studies of Hume, Kant and Bergson. He was largely responsible for the rehabilitation of Nietzsche’s reputation as a philosopher.

Sir Geoffrey Warnock

Died on 8th October aged 72. Warnock worked on a wide range of topics including ethics, history of philosophy and philosophy of language. He was a past Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and husband of Baroness Warnock, also a notable philosopher.

Emmanuel Levinas

Born in Lithuania in 1905, died in Paris on 25th December. This leading western metaphysician went to Germany in 1923 to study philosophy under Husserl and Heidegger. Moving to France, he became one of the first exponents of their teachings there. After the Second World War, he was tormented by the way in which Heidegger, the most intelligent philosopher of the twentieth century, had been able to join the Nazi party, and he decided there must be something deeply wrong with western philosophy. The rest of his life was dedicated to an attempt to bring ethical (‘Hebrew’) teachings into amoral (‘Greek’) metaphysics. He was closely involved with the French Jewish community holding senior positions in its organisations.

Gillian Rose

Died in December aged 48. A leading exponent of Continental philosophy in England who as a result became unpopular with Oxbridge philosophers. She lectured in the sociology departments at Sussex and eventually Warwick. She wrote widely on post- Kantian philosophy, political theory and Jewish and Christian theology. Her last book Love’s Work, unlike her previous academic writings, looked at her personal views of illness (she knew then her cancer was terminal) love and philosophy. Its success convinced her that there was a growing public hunger for philosophy. A non-practising Jewess, she was intrigued by non-traditional Jewish theologians such as Martin Buber and converted to Anglicanism on her death-bed.

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Society for Meta-Ethics

A new society is being formed for people interested in the theoretical foundations of ethics (as opposed to the application of ethics to everyday problems). The inaugural meeting of the British Society for Meta- Ethics will be held at Keele University on Thursday 28th March. David McNaughton of the Philosophy Department at Keele writes: “The Society hopes to hold regular conferences in the UK at affordable prices, to facilitate the exchange of information and encourage the study of ethical theory.” A web page for the society has been established at: http://www.east-tenn-st.edu/~ethics

Socratic Television

In America a philosophy TV chat show has been started. The curiously-named No Dogs Or Philosophers Allowed is broadcast by stations in an increasing number of states. The aim is to engender Socratic-style debate in the USA. The programme drags serious academics blinking into the studio lights where the host and executive producer, Ken Knisely, interrogates them about their views, stops them from getting too technical and chairs debates on subjects from moral relativism the nature of consciousness. The format is an endearing mixture of rigorous philosophy, inspired zanyness and high moral purpose. A quote from Socrates (in Plato’s Apology) crops up frequently: “You are a citizen of a great and powerful nation. Are you not ashamed that you give so much time to the pursuit of money, and reputation, and honours and care so little for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your soul?”

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