Donald Davidson is dead

by Chris Bertram on August 31, 2003

Donald Davidson, one of the foremost philosophers of mind and language of recent decades, died yesterday in Berkeley. Davidson was the author of many papers that defined the terms of subsequent debate, such as “Actions, Reasons and Causes” and “How is Weakness of the Will Possible?” The last couple of years have seen a succession of philosophical giant die (Lewis, Rawls, Nozick, Williams) and it is sad to see Davidson joining their number. An account of his life and importance can be found at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I’ll add links to obituaries to this post as they become available. (News via Brian Leiter’s site). Obituaries: New York Times, UC Berkeley News, Guardian, The Times, Daily Californian, Independent.



Dai Heide 09.01.03 at 12:23 am

It is a dark day for this grad student, indeed for the whole philosophical world, as news of Donald Davidson’s death reaches our computer screens. I give Davidson a great deal of credit for introducing me to philosophy, for setting me on my current course; doubtless, I am not alone. I have just read his short intellectual autbiography in the volume of “The Library of Living Philosophers” devoted to him. Tonight, I shed a tear for that great man.


Andre Abath 09.02.03 at 11:48 am

When I first thought of pursuing a philosophical career, I had just one thing in mind: study the work of Davidson. It was systematic and challenging in a way that always astonished me. Life took me to other philosophical landscapes, but it’s to Davidson that I return almost every day; it feels like coming home. Recently, I had the chance to discuss some of my ideas with him. The kind way he answered me is something I will never forget. In this sad day, I hope I live long enough to introduce the great ideas of this great man to future generations.


Isar Logi 09.14.03 at 11:04 pm

Cattle die
kinsmen die
all men are mortal.
Words of praise
will never perish
nor a noble name.

The Icelandic (original text): “Deyr fé,
deyja frændur,
deyr sjálfur ið sama.
En orðstír
deyr aldregi
hveim er sér góðan getur.”

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