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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Anaximander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
Heraclitus
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Alasdair MacIntyre
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
Parmenides
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Protagoras
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
David F. Pears

David Pears was a member of the ordinary language philosophy group at Oxford University in the early 1950's and 1960's.

With Peter F. Strawson, and Mary and Geoffrey J. Warnock, while he was still a student at Christ Church, Oxford, Pears organized a series of group discussions for the BBC Radio Third Programme.

One of these, "Freedom and the Will," captured the state of the free-will debates in English philosophy just before Strawson was to change the subject from the question of free will versus determinism to the problem of moral responsibility with his 1962 essay, "Freedom and Resentment."

Bernard Williams wrote an introduction and a postscript to the radio programs, which were edited by Pears as the book, "Freedom and the Will.

Pears was perhaps best known for his translation, with Brian McGuiness, of Ludwing Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

For Teachers
For Scholars
Guardian Obituary

David Pears, who has died aged 87, was an important figure in British philosophy from its heyday in Oxford after the second world war, when ordinary-language philosophy was just beginning to flourish. He helped set the parameters for the study of Ludwig Wittgenstein with his three books and many articles on the philosopher, and also wrote extensively on Bertrand Russell and David Hume, and on topics in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics and philosophy of language.

It is less easy to pin a particular set of doctrines on him than on some of his illustrious friends and contemporaries (Peter Strawson, Michael Dummett, Elizabeth Anscombe), but the philosophy of mind would have looked different without him, and arguably, thanks to the self-effacing balance of his approach, he was "the only Wittgensteinian to get Wittgenstein right", as a fellow Wittgensteinian said. A professor at Christ Church, Oxford, Pears held visiting professorships at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Berkeley, and other American universities.

He went to Westminster school, where the philosophers Richard Wollheim and Patrick Gardiner were fellow pupils and became lifelong friends. He was in the Royal Artillery during the war, and was seriously injured in a practice gas attack. On demobilisation, he studied classics at Balliol College, Oxford, and developed an interest in current philosophy thanks to a lucky accident.

As he fled the Randolph hotel after being assaulted by a beefy baronet, Pears broke his leg, and, as he was being carried to the ambulance, grabbed a book from a friend to read in hospital. It was Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which, he said, changed his life, and which he later translated in collaboration with Brian McGuinness, theirs becoming the canonical version.

Marked out as brilliant from a young age, he became research lecturer at Christ Church soon after graduating in 1948, and his early papers were included in Antony Flew's collections of cutting-edge linguistic philosophy, but he was strangely diffident, and (at first) always needed a glass of Guinness and two digestive biscuits before giving a lecture. In the 1950s, he, Strawson and Mary and Geoffrey Warnock, all starting out on their philosophical careers, staged a series of debates on what was then the Third Programme, which were later adapted into three books.

In the 1960s, he found himself "driven to the conclusion that there must be a causal connection between desire and action, because there seems to be no other theory that fits the phenomenon". Although this line went drastically against the prevalent Wittgensteinian doctrine that reasons cannot be considered causally, it soon became fashionable. Except for the odd mention of Pears, full credit for it has gone to the American philosopher Donald Davidson, who went on fully to develop the causal theory of action. This is characteristic.

Pears was not, or never seemed to be, ambitious, apart from his desire to get to grips with problems that interested him, irrespective of glory. He pursued philosophy for its own sake wherever it led him, said a fellow academic, with total "purity of philosophical motive". For him, philosophy was an exciting joint enterprise, and far from being competitive, he loved fostering the work of students and colleagues, sending them congratulatory postcards from wherever he happened to be, although inevitably he had his quarrels too. Perhaps he never quite attained the stature expected of him, being less influential through his writing than through brilliant, witty discussion, and something of an unsung hero. He would rather self-deprecatingly say that he owed his entire intellectual achievement to his extraordinary photographic memory.

When his book Ludwig Wittgenstein was published in 1971, Igor Stravinksy wrote to congratulate Pears on the beauty of his writing, which, wrote Bernard Williams, "combines in a very pure form the more conversational and the more formal aspects of analytic philosophy (it is rather reminiscent of a certain kind of 20th-century French music)". For Williams - they had given a fascinating seminar on identity together in the 1950s, which was described as "the high-point of philosophical activity of the time" - Pears's questions and discoveries, which were often "deliberately, and realistically, vague", were "constantly shaped ... by a project of self-understanding".

Fascinated by paradox, expert in psychology as well as philosophy, and with an insight and empathy unusual in academic males of the time, Pears wrote brilliantly on the self, self-deception and weakness of will. Philosophers, he complains in Motivated Irrationality (1984), tend to ignore that reason "is a force that is stronger in some people than in others" and "project into ordinary thought and behaviour the rationality of their own analyses of ordinary thought and behaviour", adding, "their prejudice is common among bystanders, who forget what it is like to be a participant".

One reason that he loved, and linked, Hume and Wittgenstein was the aspiration he ascribed to each of them of understanding humans as they are, grounded in fleshly reality. "Wittgenstein's case against philosophical theories," he writes in the second volume of The False Prison: A Study of the Development of Wittgenstein's Philosophy (1988), is "that they are postulates of reason", whereas he himself is trying to "make us see how our own linguistic devices work, simply by putting them in their place in our lives ..."

It was exhilarating to be taught by Pears. He often took on students whom other dons were wary of, arguing that you could never tell who his students were, since they were not carrying on some line of his, but developing their own interests. Spotting nonsense was his great strength; he was a "balloon-pricker", as one friend said. With his eye for the absurd, and sense of the fantastical, he was life-enhancingly funny and a brilliant raconteur, telling stories in so frank and ingenuous a way that it was hard to tell, and hardly seemed to matter, whether they were true or not. He and Isaiah Berlin seemed to think that the whole point of life was to make one another laugh, said a friend. He knew everyone, and the gossipy part of philosophy was his meat and drink.

He believed that he did his best work when in a good mood, and, as visiting professor to UCLA (1979), would drive to the beach each morning and sit by the sea, writing and watching people and dolphins. Passionate and erudite about art, he was influential in setting up the Christ Church Gallery.

He and Mary Warnock shared a love of interior decoration, and scoured obscure shops for fabulous materials when given the task of decorating a philosophy hang-out by John Austin, whose famous Saturday mornings in the 1950s they both attended. Before his marriage to Anne Drew in 1963, he and the Warnocks would go on holiday together in Italy, the Warnock children finding him hilarious, and he taking them completely seriously.

His own idyllic childhood summer holidays in a house near Salcombe in south Devon (which he tried to recreate for his son and daughter) left him with a love for botany and of studying butterflies and moths. He inherited a butterfly collection from an uncle, which he considerably added to, until, dismayed by seeing the light fade from a moth's eye, he decided not to kill them, but to photograph them instead. He used to dispatch male Emperor moths from his house near Oxford to mate with females in the garden of Patrick and Susan Gardiner, three miles away - and it worked.

Skilled at cooking, gardening and carpentry, he was always practical and quick-witted - when he arrived at the scene of a car accident in the High, Oxford's high street, he instantly tore up his shirt into bandages while his philosopher companions merely dithered. Always, perhaps, he was trying to follow the advice of his beloved Hume: "Be a philosopher but, amid your philosophy, be still a man." He is survived by Anne and his children.

• David Francis Pears, philosopher, born 8 August 1921; died 1 July 2009

Notes

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Bibliography

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