Friday, November 02, 2012

Annette Baier (1929-2012)

Annette Baier, noted moral philosopher and scholar in early modern philosophy (her works on Hume are excellent), has recently died. This is a great loss to the profession. Her Paul Carus lectures, The Commons of the Mind, an argument for the inherently social nature of reason, should be more widely read than it is. She was extraordinarily -- although sometimes subtly -- original, always looking at things in a new way, in light of a new idea. She was thoroughly feminist, but at the same time vehemently opposed any attempt to confine feminist philosophy to a narrow range of topics: feminist philosophy was for her philosophy itself, as done with feminist interests.

She once said -- in Moral Prejudices, I think -- that ethics was a polyphonic art form, in which echoes of old voices bring out the quality in the new voices. Polyphony is a good word for describing her work: old woven with new, and ethics with epistemology, and reason with passion and imagination.


  1. A Galbraith6:32 PM

    beautifully put

  2. Brigittetdarnay10:15 PM

    Your description of her work as "reason with passion and imagination" causes me to wish to read her lectures on "The Commons of the Mind".

  3. branemrys11:20 PM

     They are worth reading. They were lectures for philosophers, so they do get technical at points, but a lot of the book is quite readable.


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