Rom Harré (1927-2019)

Rom Harré, a wide-ranging thinker whose academic career included over 30 years as part of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University, followed by over 20 as part of the psychology faculty at Georgetown University, and a great many visiting appointments around the world, has died.

Professor Harré was born in New Zealand, and received undergraduate degrees in mathematics and philosophy at what was then the University of New Zealand. After teaching math for several years, he went to Oxford for his B.Phil. In 1957 he began a lectureship at University of Leicester, and in 1960 he joined the philosophy faculty at Oxford. After retiring from Oxford in 1995, he took up a distinguished research professorship in psychology at Georgetown. Throughout his career, he visited and taught at many other institutions, including American University (DC), SUNY Binghamton, Aoyama University (Tokyo), Universidad Santiago de Compostela (Spain), Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (Peru); Free University at Brussels; Aarhus University (Denmark) and others.

Professor Harré worked in philosophy of science, including philosophy of social science, philosophy of psychology, and philosophy chemistry, and philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of language, Wittgenstein, and a variety of other subjects. You can learn about some of his works here.

In the highly informative introduction to a detailed interview with Professor Harré conducted in 2014, interviewers Simone Belli and Juan Aceros describe his work in philosophy of science (“focused on destabilizing the central doctrines of logical empiricism and positivism”) and psychology (particularly his development of “ethogenics,” an approach to social behavior that views it as “a cooperative achievement that can be studied by using a microsociological dramaturgical point of view”).

You also get from them a sense of the kind of man he was: “Harré is a person for whom intellectual adventure is incompatible with prejudice and dogma. He is a professor and a scientist with a sensitivity and intelligence which allows him to see things that many others do not.”

(via Simone Belli)

UPDATE (10/21/19): Memorial notice from Oxford University.

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