Charles Guignon (1944-2020)

Charles Guignon, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of South Florida, died this past weekend. 

The following is an obituary for Professor Guignon authored by Kevin Aho (Florida Gulf Coast University).

Charles Guignon

The American philosopher Charles Guignon (1944-2020) passed away peacefully at the age of 76 on May 23rd.

Charlie received his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in 1979 under the supervision of Hubert Dreyfus. As a student, Charlie was awarded a two-year Fulbright for a stay at Heidelberg University, where he studied with Hans-Georg Gadamer. He taught at Princeton, University of Texas at Austin, University of Auckland, UC Berkeley, University of Vermont, and finished his teaching career at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa.

He was most well-known for his work on Martin Heidegger and taught widely in the areas of existentialism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, and moral psychology. In 1983 he published the ground-breaking book Heidegger and the Problem of Knowledge (Hackett) which was the first of its kind to bring Heidegger’s thought into conversation with core areas of Anglophone philosophy. He went on to edit the Cambridge Companion to Heidegger (1993), The Good Life (Hackett, 1999), The Existentialists (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), and co-edit Existentialism: Basic Writings (Hackett 1995) as well as a volume on the philosophy of Richard Rorty (Cambridge, 2003). He also authored/co-authored extended philosophical introductions to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Grand Inquisitor, Hackett, 1993; Notes from the Underground, Hackett, 2009). His career-long devotion to moral psychology and the question of authenticity led him to co-author Re-envisioning Psychology (Jossey-Bass, 1999), and culminated in 2004 with the publication of his last book, On Being Authentic (Routledge). (You can learn more about his research here.)

Charlie was always in touch with popular culture and had a gift for making philosophy accessible by drawing on wide ranging references to movies, television, music, and literature. His undergraduate Existentialism and Philosophy of Film classes were always packed. Charlie also supervised/co-supervised a dozen PhD students at USF, and served on the committees of dozens more, shepherding many on to successful academic careers. His graduate seminars filled quickly, and he embodied a rare kind of honesty and vulnerability in these courses that made it clear to his students that philosophy and the questions it engages were deeply personal to him. His seminars were rigorous and demanding, but they were always balanced with his own endearing and self-deprecating sense of humor.

He will be missed by many, including the numerous contributors to a 2014 Festschrift in his honor (Horizons of Authenticity, Springer).  Charlie is survived by his wife Sally, daughter Michele Guignon (Eric Fitzgerald) of Colchester, VT, son Christopher Guignon (Norah Guignon) of Pittsburgh, PA, and step-children Michael Angier (Cathy Angier), Michelle Turbide (Brian Turbide), Sarah Langley (John Langley), and Bradford Angier; as well as eight grandchildren, Colin, Marielle, Maddi, Lucian, Maeve, Cooper, Eleanor, and Eden.

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