Angus Kerr-Lawson

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Angus Kerr-LawsonDistinguished Professor Emeritus Angus Kerr-Lawson died late June 2011 shortly after his daughters accepted the honour of Distinguished Professor Emeritus on his behalf at the spring convocation.

Professor Kerr-Lawson served with excellence as a faculty member in both Philosophy and Pure Mathematics at Waterloo for nearly 40 years from 1958 to 1996. He took on many crucial roles, serving as Department Chair (Mathematics), Senate Executive Committee, and the University Board of Governors.

Since Angus's retirement, his work in the field of American philosophy, always respected, has increasingly been recognized as foundational to aspects of the field. He was a distinguished, internationally known scholar of the mathematics and logic of Charles Sanders Peirce, and of the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza. He is best known, though, for his extensive work on the philosophy of George Santayana. 

It is no exaggeration to say that Angus was one of the top few living English language scholars of Santayana. Indeed, it is rare to encounter an English-language book or journal article on Santayana that doesn't engage Angus, either by thanking him in the acknowledgements, or by directly focusing its attention on his work. Thus the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy honoured Angus for his
contributions to the field in 2008, while the journal Transactions of the Charles S Peirce Society published a special issue devoted to his work in 2009.  

Angus published a substantial body of peer-reviewed philosophy journal articles on central figures in 19th and early 20th-century American philosophy.  He also contributed book chapters on Peirce and Santayana to collections edited by some of the most distinguished living scholars of American philosophy. Yet the larger component of his philosophical work appeared elsewhere –  in Overheard in Seville, the bulletin of the Santayana Society, which he himself edited from 1983 to 2006. In this journal he published 24 articles between 1983 and 2009.  Overheard in Seville is the primary locus for scholarship on Santayana.  Without this journal and Angus's tireless stewardship of it, Santayana scholarship would be decades behind where it is today. 

Angus was a very fine scholar and a respected member of the university community. His intellectual generosity and great collegiality will not be forgotten by those fortunate enough to have worked or studied with him.

Affiliation: 
University of Waterloo

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