Richard Tieszen (1951-2017)
Richard Tieszen, professor of philosophy at San José State University, died earlier this week at age 65. Professor Tieszen worked in the philosophy of math, logic, and phenomenology.
While he spent most of his career at San José State, Professor Tieszen also had held visiting appointments at Universiteit Utrecht in the Netherlands and Stanford University.
He had recently completed a book, Simply Gödel, which will be published next month. There is a brief memorial notice on the website of the publisher, Simply Charly.
Here is a video of Professor Tieszen presenting “Husserl to Gödel” in 2013:
Tieszen was a great guy to work with, and an extremely clear writer, even on the most abstruse topics. I’m not sure I’d understand Brouwer at all, given the limited time I had, were it not for his work. Here is an excerpt from an email interview with him, I conducted in relation to an as-yet unpublished paper on analytic approaches to phenomenology, where he talks about some of the relevant social networks in California:
“At Columbia I was basically trained in analytic philosophy, but I was reading a lot of analytically oriented phenomenology on my own, thanks to the writings of Dagfinn [Føllesda], David [Woodruff Smith], Ron [McIntyre], and Izchak [Miller] that began to appear… After I arrived in the Bay area in the Fall of ’89 there were meetings at Stanford and UC Berkeley. Izchak was here for a while, and David and Ron would drive up for meetings when Dagfinn was at Stanford. There would usually be a few students in tow at the meetings. I remember gatherings in Berkeley with Dreyfus (on more than one occasion) and with Searle (one or two occasions). Most meetings were at Stanford. Sometimes visitors from abroad would participate, e.g., Christian Beyer. Meetings were informal, with lots of good discussion and analysis, always goodnatured and friendly. If we met in the Southland, Dallas Willard would appear.”Report
Rick was a superb philosopher and a wonderful person to know and work with. He was an essential part of what is sometimes called “west-coast phenomenology”, comprising a number of philosophers heavily influenced by the work of Dagfinn Føllesdal. This influence may be characterized in two respects having little to do with the advocacy of specific philosophical positions: it encourages and practices free interchange between topics and methods often compartmentalized in such terms as “analytic” and “continental”; and it fosters friendly and supportive, rather than competitive and antagonistic, discussions among philosophers. Rick Tieszen was an exemplar of these virtues. He produced outstanding work in philosophy of mathematics, especially on Gödel, but never shied away from characterizing his work as “phenomenological”. In discussion, Rick was never arrogant or jealous of his own work; quite the contrary, he shared freely with others and treated them as valuable sources for improving his own views. If more philosophers shared Rick’s open-minded approach to philosophy and his kind and humane treatment of other philosophers – whether agreeing or not – our profession would be immensely improved.Report
I just found Richard Tieszen’s 2005 article in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research on Husserl and geometry, titled “Free Variation and the Intuition of Geometric Essences.” I haven’t even finished it, but it was so good I wanted to find out more about the author. I honestly cried when I read this. I feel like I made a friend on lost them the same day. This is really good and important work. I’m so sorry I missed him.Report
I was one of Rick’s students at SJSU in his first days there. He had a huge impact on my thinking and nearly caused me to change my major from environmental studies to philosophy. He was, without any doubt at all, one of the finest teachers I’ve ever known, and a wonderful human being. And, like Eleanor, above, I cried when I learned of his death. Whenever we lose a great teacher the world seems unmistakeably smaller and darker, until we remember their message and their personality and find renewed hope and confidence. Rick was that kind of teacher and person. I just need to remember that.Report