d.m. Pierre Hadot

Professeur émérite au Collège de France, historien et spécialiste de la philosophie antique, Pierre Hadot est mort dans la nuit du 24 au 25 avril. Il était âgé de 88 ans.

Pierre Hadot, philosophe et historien mondialement reconnu pour ses nombreux travaux sur les écoles de pensées antiques, notamment le stoïcisme et le néoplatonisme, vient de mourir, à l’âge de 88 ans. Il contribua à bouleverser le paysage de cette discipline, qui ne constitue pas tant pour lui, une façon de discourir, qu’une façon d’être. Il établira ses réflexions et conclusions dans une œuvre dense, aussi riche dans le fond que sobre dans l’écriture: Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique (Collection des études augustiniennes, 1981, réédité en 2002 par Albin Michel), N’oublie pas de vivre : Goethe et la tradition des exercices spirituels (Albin Michel, 2008)… Sans oublier deux ouvrages majeurs sur la question : Qu’est-ce que la philosophie antique ? (Gallimard, Folio, 1995), La philosophie comme manière de vivre (Albin Michel, 2002). Pierre Hadot se sera efforcé, toute sa carrière durant, de mettre en lumière la façon dont certains textes antiques, de Platon à Marc-Aurèle, en passant par Sénèque et Aristote, représentent autant d’exercices spirituels dans le cadre d’un examen de conduite. Mais il ne délaissait pas pour autant les philosophes modernes, et fut notamment, à partir des années 1950, l’un des premiers commentateurs et traducteurs de l’œuvre de Wittgenstein. Il travailla notamment en collaboration avec son épouse, la philosophe Ilsetraut Hadot.

Né en 1922 à Reims, c’est par la spiritualité que Pierre Hadot aborde la pensée philosophique puisqu’il est ordonné prêtre après avoir suivi des études de théologie. Il quitte le sacerdoce en 1950, se consacre alors à des études de lettres et commence sa carrière en tant que bibliothécaire. Il se fait connaître du public, en 1963, par un essai limpide sur le néoplatonisme: Plotin ou la simplicité du regard (Gallimard). Il est nommé Directeur d’Études à l’École pratique des Hautes Études de 1964 à 1985, avant d’être élu, à 60 ans, à la chaire d’histoire au Collège de France (émérite depuis 1991) sur l’initiative de Michel Foucault, dont les derniers ouvrages furent influencés par les travaux du chercheur.

Pierre Hadot avait été vu pour la dernière fois en public le 12 avril lors d’une rencontre organisée par la bibliothèque de l’École normale supérieure, autour d’un ouvrage collectif dédié à son œuvre, et paru le 18 mars aux éditions Rue d’Ulm : Pierre Hadot, l’enseignement des antiques, l’enseignement des modernes. À l’occasion de sa disparition, le ministre de la culture, Frédéric Mitterrand a salué son «étonnante érudition», «son incessant retour à ces grands penseurs de l’Antiquité dont il savait si bien montrer les ressources pour notre modernité».

via Disparition du philosophe et historien Pierre Hadot- Le Magazine-Litteraire.

See also Michael Chase’s reminiscences at the HUP site:

d.m. Traianos Gagos

Traianos Gagos, colleague, friend, and archivist for the University Library’s papyrus collection, passed away suddenly last week at the age of 49.

“Traianos Gagos was an extraordinary scholar who helped to develop extraordinary resources both at Michigan and around the world. He was also a warm and enthusiastic friend and colleague, and we will miss him greatly,“ said University Librarian Paul Courant.

When Traianos arrived at the University of Michigan in 1988, the library already held the largest collection of papyri in the Western Hemisphere, but his vision, diligence, and dedication made it readily available to the world.

Back in 1995, when the World Wide Web was just a brave new world, Traianos was already part of the team that created the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS), a massive online database combining descriptions and images of papyrus fragments from multiple institutions. He worked tirelessly on the methodologies and politics of this program from the start, engaging in tasks that ranged from identifying details of metadata to collect for each papyrus to creating standards for technologies, to bringing new institutions on board. From 1996 to 2008 the project was supported by an almost-unheard-of series of five back-to-back multi-institutional National Endowment for the Humanities grants, on all of which Traianos served as principal investigator or project manager.

The impact of the APIS project has been revolutionary. With nearly eight thousand records for Michigan papyri now in the APIS database, the collection is heavily used by scholars and students all over the world. The Michigan papyrus collection is on the map as a leader and innovator, a place to look to as a model in the management of both electronic and original collections of ancient documents.

Traianos also put great effort into making this collection accessible to the non-specialist. The incorporation of translations and names into the APIS database was intended to facilitate access by scholars in related fields or laypeople who lacked the language skills to read the originals. He participated in numerous television and other media interviews for general audiences and conducted countless tours of the collection for groups ranging from senior citizens to school children. With Kathryn Beam in the Special Collections Library he contributed to the library’s highly popular annual exhibition “From Papyrus to King James,” whose CD-ROM version won the Michigan Press Book Award in 1999.

Traianos’s work as archivist for the papyrus collection in the library was just one portion of a rich professional output. He held a joint appointment as Professor of Papyrology and Greek in the Department of Classical Studies, where he taught not only the study of ancient texts but also founded and taught in the Modern Greek language program. He published widely and held many leadership positions among papyrologists nationally and internationally. Ludwig Koenen, professor emeritus of papyrology, has written a remembrance for the Classical Studies Web page.

His many friends at the University Library will miss his dry humor, ready laugh, and outlook of bemused tolerance for an imperfect world.

The Department of Classical Studies, the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, and the University Library will host a memorial for Traianos on Monday, May 3, at 4 p.m. in the Michigan Union ballroom.

Cards and letters of condolence may be sent to Gina Soter, c/o Department of Classical Studies, 2160 Angell Hall, 435 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1003; they will be collected and passed on to his family. In lieu of flowers, the Traianos Gagos Fund for Papyrology has been established for the purpose of assisting and promoting study and research in Papyrology by students at all levels.

If you wish to make a gift to this fund, the following link will direct you to the College of Literature, Science and the Arts giving site where you can be assured your gift will be added to this endowment: http://lsa.umich.edu/alumni/giveonline. Click on “give student support,” then check the box “my gift is in honor/memory of someone.” Add Traianos Gagos there.

via University Library Remembers Traianos Gagos, 1960–2010 | MLibrary.

d.m. David Furley

David Furley was one of the 20th century’s outstanding scholars of Greco-Roman philosophy. The quantity of Furley’s published output is perhaps modest by today’s standards. But virtually every item is a gem, and many have become classics.

He was educated at Nottingham High School and at Jesus College Cambridge, where he became an Honorary Fellow. In 1947, after war service in Burma and a return to Cambridge to complete his degree, he took up an assistant lectureship in the Departments of Greek and Latin at University College London. Following promotions up to the level of reader, he moved in 1966 to a professorship at Princeton University. He remained there until his retirement in 1992, which was marked with a conference in his honour at the Institute of Classical Studies, London, and not long after by his return to residence in England, at Charlbury in Oxfordshire.

The most recurrent motif of his work was the systematic contrast between two radically opposed philosophical and scientific worldviews, atomism and Aristotelianism, his analyses typically shedding equal light on both traditions. The leading exhibit is undoubtedly his brilliant 1967 book Two Studies in the Greek Atomists. Here he took two central themes of Epicurean atomism and reconstructed the origins of each, above all by minute study of the relevant texts in relation to their Aristotelian background. A model of lucid and judicious scholarship, this monograph did much, perhaps more than any other single book, to bring Epicureanism into the philosophical mainstream.

Another way in which Furley’s work proved seminal lay in his genius for writing a short but incisive article which provoked an entire micro-industry of debate. His classic “Self-movers”, a mere 15 pages in the original 1978 publication, became the focus of a subsequent conference at Pittsburgh, which in turn led to a multi-authored volume (Self-motion from Aristotle to Newton, ed. M.L. Gill and J. Lennox, 1994).

Another such case is “The rainfall example in Physics II.8″ (1986), which argued with amazing concision – it weighed in at just six printed pages – that, contrary to the current orthodoxy, Aristotle in fact believed that rainfall is purposive, and not merely the mechanical outcome of meteorological processes. Again, a debate accumulated around the article, with far-reaching implications for Aristotle’s natural philosophy.

A third case is “Lucretius and the Stoics” (1966). Lucretius was one of Furley’s heroes (the Epicurean Latin poet’s eloquent repudiation of the fear of death was read at his funeral). The article, running this time to an impressive 20 pages, presented a major challenge to the orthodoxy that Lucretius’s polemics are typically directed against Stoic rivals. Resistance to this article’s findings has been widespread in Lucretian circles, but it still has its defenders, and the debate remains evenly balanced.

Furley’s services to scholarship were wide-ranging. For example he co-authored with J. S. Wilkie a fine annotated edition, Galen on Respiration and the Arteries (1984); translated the pseudo-Aristotelian On the World for the Loeb Classical Library (1955), as well as parts of Philoponus’s commentary on Aristotle’s Physics (1991); was editor of the journal Phronesis from 1968 to 1972; and also edited, among other collective publications, the second volume of the Routledge History of Philosophy (1997). His final long-term project was a major two-volume work, The Greek Cosmologists. The first volume appeared in 1987, but the eagerly awaited sequel never followed. Meanwhile most of his articles were collected in his 1989 book Cosmic Problems. These succinct masterpieces may well prove to be his most enduring intellectual legacy.

He was widely regarded within the ancient philosophy community as one of the subject’s most brilliant practitioners. He received Princeton University’s Howard T. Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities in 1984, and was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 1990. From 1969 to 1982 he directed Princeton University’s Program in Classical Philosophy.

In collaboration at first with Gregory Vlastos and Terry Penner, and later with Michael Frede, John Cooper and Alexander Nehamas, he helped build Princeton’s reputation as a world-leading centre for the study of ancient philosophy. While still in the UK he had co-founded the Southern Association for Ancient Philosophy, and in September 2005 he was one of a tiny handful of survivors from the inaugural meeting present in Oxford to help celebrate its 50th birthday.

Furley’s second wife, Phyllis, predeceased him by nine months. They were much-loved figures at Princeton, in and beyond the classics community. The play-readings that they held in their house at Ringoes over a period of 27 years became legendary. He particularly cherished his graduate students, many of whom went on to distinguished careers of their own. He found relaxation in bridge, furniture-making and bird-watching.

He is survived by his first wife Diana and their two sons, John and Bill (the latter himself a classical scholar), by four grandchildren, and by three generations of step-offspring from his second marriage.

Professor David Furley: Celebrated scholar of Greco-Roman philosophy | The Independent (David Sedley).