Annette Baier, 1929-2012
Professor Annette Baier: renowned Hume scholar and long-time member of the Hume Society.
It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Annette Baier, in Dunedin Hospital on the 2nd of November, where she had been admitted following heart problems earlier in the week. She was 83. Annette C Baier (nee Stoop) was born in 1929 and studied Philosophy at the University of Otago in New Zealand, and at Oxford University. She taught at Aberdeen, Auckland and Sydney before emigrating to America with her husband Kurt Baier. She first taught at Carnegie Mellon, then at Pittsburgh, and it was at Pittsburgh that her career really took off. She became famous as a moral philosopher, a Hume scholar and a feminist, with books such as Postures of the Mind: Essays on Mind and Morals (1985), A Progress of Sentiments: Reflections on Hume's Treatise (1991), Moral Prejudices (1995) and The Commons of the Mind (1997). She was also an inspiring and much loved teacher. She served as President of the Eastern Division of the APA (as did Kurt), gave the Paul Carus Lectures in Philosophy (as did Kurt), and was invited to be a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (as was Kurt), making them perhaps the only husband and wife duo to achieve this trio of distinctions. In 1995, the Baiers retired to New Zealand dividing their time between Queenstown and Dunedin. She published four more books during her retirement: Death and Character: Further Reflections on Hume (2008), The Cautious, Jealous Virtue: Hume on Justice (2010), Reflections on How We Live (2010) and The Pursuits of Philosophy (2011). Friends of Annette will be pleased to know that she was active in philosophy right up to the last, attending and contributing to the Otago Departmental Seminar with her customary wit and acuity to within a few weeks of her death. She will be sorely missed.
—Charles Pigden, Philosophy, University of Otago
Annette Baier was an extraordinarily learned and very fine scholar. Not only in the Hume literature, primary and secondary, but more broadly in the whole range of early modern philosophical writers and topics. She was also a very important and original contributor to debates and issues in ethics. I personally learned a great deal both from her writings and from correspondence and conversations with her. She was quite certainly one of the most important Hume scholars of the last half century and more.
— Peter Loptson, Philosophy, University of Guelph
The death of Annette Baier is a grievous loss. She was a courageous philosopher and an imaginative and careful scholar who inspired many of us.
— Virginia Held, Philosophy, CUNY
Annette's death represents an irreparable loss for the Society. During the many years I attended its meetings, her presence was always transformative. We all know she was a deeply original interpreter of Hume's thought, but when she was there she was generous with her time and in her judgments, and made every gathering memorable. It is an honour to have known her.
— Terence Penelhum, Philosophy, University of Calgary
Over the years I have had the privilege to review a number of Annette Baier’s books on Hume, to correspond with her, and to meet her at Hume conferences. Each of her books is loaded with original insights into Hume’s philosophy. They sparkle with wit, imagination, and often exasperated love of her subject. I have always found her interpretations of Hume’s philosophy challenging, particularly when we disagreed, and this led to exchanges from which I learned a great deal. Her output, especially in her last years, has been truly remarkable. I will admit to a favorite Baier book, namely her Cautious Jealous Virtue: Hume on Justice (2010). The way she compares the accounts of justice and equity in Hume’s History of England and his essays with his original accounts in Book 3 of the Treatise is truly impressive. Annette combined a keen analytical mind with a deep respect for the history of ideas, and has provided a real inspiration for many others working on Hume. She leaves a remarkable legacy of writing which should stimulate Hume scholarship for many future generations.
— John P. Wright, Philosophy and Religion, Central Michigan University
Annette and I were trading emails in the months leading up to her death this past fall. Over the previous few years she had suffered from a series of health challenges, though none that seemed life-threatening. Her final email to me was uncharacteristically brief, and I learned later that it was in the period where doctors were trying – ultimately unsuccessfully – to recalibrate her medications. The message included an acknowledgement that she had nothing more to say on the topic of our discussion – Hume’s rejection of moral rationalism in Part 1 of Book 3 of the Treatise. Given her boundless curiosity and her openness to changing her mind, I was taken aback. It was the first time in my experience she had closed off a conversation, and I now realize that I should have known at that point that all of us were soon to lose a great interlocutor – not just about Hume, but about the ethics of friendship, trust, feminism, Descartes, justice, and so much more.
— Donald Ainslie, Philosophy, University of Toronto
Claudia Maria Schmidt, 1962-2011
Dr. Claudia Schmidt passed away quietly at her parent's home in Riverside on January 7th, 2011 at the age of 49 after a long, brave battle with leukemia. Claudia was a long-time Hume Society member, active in its conferences as a frequent presenter or commentator, since 1993. For the past ten years, she had been living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she was Associate Professor of Philosophy at Marquette University. Claudia was born and raised in Riverside, CA. In 1981 she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCR, where she was also inducted in Phi Beta Kappa and named the “Outstanding Woman Graduate for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.” She went on to earn an MA degree in Religious Studies from UCSB (1985), a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from the Berkeley Graduate Theological Union (1992), where she wrote her first dissertation, "History and Rationality: Hume's Philosophy as a Social Theory of Knowledge." Claudia earned her second Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Iowa (1999), where she wrote a dissertation on "Kant's Transcendental and Empirical Anthropology of Cognition" under the supervision of Günter Zöller.
Upon completion of her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa, Dr. Schmidt was hired by Marquette University, where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in philosophy of human nature, philosophy of history, Kant and Hume. Her published work includes a comprehensive scholarly work on Hume's writings, David Hume - Reason in History (2003). Her articles on Hume, Kant, and the Philosophy of History appeared in Kant-Studien, Clio, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Southern Journal of Philosophy , and elsewhere. In her teaching, Claudia was able to share her enthusiasm for the history of philosophy, and her graduate course in Kant was one that prepared students well for further study. As a colleague, Claudia was unfailingly delightful. Her sense of humor, her concern for colleagues and students, and her joy in her vocation as a scholar and teacher were contagious. Her regular presence at departmental and university-wide events, from colloquia and seminars to interdisciplinary faculty groups dedicated to Ignatian pedagogy and fellowship is notable. Her service to the Department and College were extensive, but special attention should be given to her role as secretary of Marquette University’s Zeta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, her work as department Colloquium Coordinator, and her work as an advisor to undergraduate and graduate students. Claudia’s colleagues elected her to the Department’s Executive Committee in 2004-05, a testament to the respect they had for her judgment and leadership ability. Her colleagues and students are in her debt for exemplifying the joy with which an academic career can be led.
Among Claudia's wide-ranging interests could be counted the works of Jane Austen, dance, ballet and theatre performances, and music ranging from Gregorian chant to Robert Plant. She was an active member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Milwaukee, where she served on the Altar Guild and was a frequent Lector. A beloved family member, Claudia was the daughter of Ada and Hartland Schmidt. She is also survived by her brother Steven, sister-in-law Rong-Huey Liu and nieces Autumn and Aurora. Claudia has uncles, aunts and cousins in California, Texas and Minnesota.
-Hartland Schmidt and James B. South, January 2011, slight amendment by Angela Coventry
Antony Flew, 1923-2010
Professor Antony Flew, long-time Hume Society member and Hume scholar, died on April 8, 2010. Flew was best-known for his views in philosophy of religion, and is author of many books and articles, including Hume’s Philosophy of Belief (1961) and David Hume: Philosopher of Moral Science (1986). A full obituary from The New York Times can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/17/arts/17flew.html.
Mary Mothersill, 1923-2008
Professor Mary Mothersill, distinguished philosopher and long-time member of the Hume Society, died in New York City on January 22, 2008.
Mary was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 1923. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto, and her Ph.D. from Radcliffe College, Harvard University, in 1954, writing her dissertation on “Lewis and Stevenson: A critical comparison of two theories of value.”
Mary was a member of a pioneering generation of women in philosophy—although she rarely drew attention to this fact herself. According to the APA records, in 1954 only eight women received doctoral degrees in Philosophy. Mary’s early career was somewhat peripatetic: She began teaching in 1947, at Vassar College, where she stayed until 1951. Between 1951 and 1963 she taught at a number of universities, including Columbia and the University of Chicago. In 1963, however, she joined the faculty of Barnard College, the undergraduate college for women at Columbia University, where she remained until her retirement in 1993. For most of her years at Barnard, Mary was Chair of the Philosophy Department. And, although I suspect she would have disliked the term ‘mentor,’ throughout her career, Mary encouraged and supported women in philosophy.
Mary was well known for her publications in aesthetics and ethics: her meticulously argued book Beauty Restored (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1984) continues to be recognized as a central part of the literature of aesthetics. An active member of the American Philosophical Association, Mary served as President of the Eastern Division in 1998-99. She was also a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Philosophy for many years. In 2003, for her contributions to philosophy, Mary Mothersill was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Mary continued to be engaged in philosophy after her retirement. Not only did she teach introductory humanities courses at Columbia, she also became a frequent participant in the Hume Society, attending conferences and serving as a commentator on papers. Mary enjoyed the sociability of our meetings, as well as the academic sessions. She was greatly disappointed when her declining health prevented her from traveling to Koblenz in August 2006, where she had been invited to speak.
I was fortunate to have had Mary Mothersill as a teacher and advisor at Barnard in the late 1960s. An artful leader of discussions of philosophical problems and texts, she rarely lectured. Her classes were always demanding and often intense, but Mary’s wit and sense of irony fostered a certain detachment as well. Indeed, the talent for witty conversation was one of Mary’s most notable traits outside the classroom as well.
Mary’s Presidential Address to the APA, on the topic of old age, exemplifies her ability to combine wry observation with serious reflection and analysis. She referred to herself as one of the “oldies,” although not, by her account, one of the old old: you had to be at least eighty three, she said, to be included in that group. A good deal of her address critiques the underlying assumptions of various theories about aging, but toward the end Mary turned to a Socratic question: “If the central question of ethics is, as Socrates claimed, “How shall we live our lives?” then it makes sense to ask how we should navigate the troubled waters of old age.” She mentions Socrates, Dewey, Russell and especially Hume as philosophers who provide helpful models of how to confront old age and death. Even by the high standards set by these four, Mary acquitted herself very well. Mary Mothersill will be remembered for her philosophical work, for her influence on generations of women in philosophy, and for a life well lived.
-Jane McIntyre, February 2008