Philosophers still teaching after 80
November 5, 2008 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Famous philosophers who taught philosophy well into their eigthies or nineties?

Or what was considered very old age at the time.
posted by amusem to Religion & Philosophy (11 answers total)
Socrates said something about waiting until you were in your 50s or so before you started studying philosophy... and I think he intended that at that age you begin with geometry.

Do you mean "taught until they died" because I think that wasn't in their 80s or 90s, but was most of them...
posted by ewkpates at 12:37 PM on November 5, 2008

I guess Bertrand Russell would be a good modern example. He was writing right up until his death at 97.
posted by Knappster at 1:11 PM on November 5, 2008

Though this might not be precisely the answer you seek, Professor Hubert Dreyfus is nearing his eighties and is still teaching, with great enthusiasm, courses on Martin Heidegger, phenomenology, existentialist literature, and aesthetics in a highly analytic Philosophy department at Berkeley.

He goes out of his way to make his lectures available to the public and is the only scholar I've met thus far that doesn't use their age as an attempt to excuse themselves from using the internet as a means to extend their classroom to reach the greatest audience. If you're interested, you can find them podcasted on itunes.
posted by Aleatoire at 1:33 PM on November 5, 2008

Response by poster: Yes, "taught until they died" would also be a good way to put it. But the notion of "kept teaching having reached very old age" is my main concern.
posted by amusem at 1:35 PM on November 5, 2008

Jurgen Habermas is currently 79.
posted by General Malaise at 1:35 PM on November 5, 2008

Hilary Putnam taught until 2000, which put him at 74. He's in his 80s now and I believe he's a Professor Emeritus. He's still writing and giving some lectures too.

Kant practiced philosophy until around 1799, when he was 75.

I believe St. Augustine also taught more or less until he died at the age of 75.

Apparently Church taught until 1990, when he was 87.

Quine lived to 92. I'm not exactly sure when he officially stopped teaching. Wikipedia says he was affiliated with Harvard until he died..
posted by chndrcks at 1:36 PM on November 5, 2008

W.V.O. Quine was officially affiliated with Harvard up until his death at age 82. Some of that time was in retirement, but he did quite a bit of writing and publishing while connected to the school during that time.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:39 PM on November 5, 2008

Sorry, 92.

Err, what chndrcks said.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:40 PM on November 5, 2008

I'm pretty sure Philippa Foot was at least supervising students at UCLA into her eighties.
posted by Beardman at 3:03 PM on November 5, 2008

Jacques Derrida was writing until his death at 74.
posted by rabbitsnake at 3:40 PM on November 5, 2008

Leiter has a list of philosophers that he uses for his rankings. He marks those faculty that are over 70 with a "*". You can find the list from 2006 here:

That could give you some contemporary examples.
posted by singerdj at 5:30 PM on November 5, 2008

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