Charles W. Mills, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), has died.Professor Mills was well known for his work in social and political philosophy, African-American and Africana philosophy, critical philosophy of race, ethics, and Marxist thought. He is the author of over 100 journal articles, chapters, and commentaries, as well as six books: The Racial Contract, Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race, From Class to Race: Essays in White Marxism and Black Radicalism, Contract and Domination (co-authored with Carole Pateman), Radical Theory, Caribbean Reality, and Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism. You can learn more about his writings here and here.
Mills was appointed professor of philosophy at CUNY in 2016. Prior to that, he spent a decade on the faculty at Northwestern University (2007-2016) and before that, 17 years at the University of Illinois, Chicago (1990-2007). Earlier appointments were at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Toronto, Campion College and the College of Arts and Sciences in Kingston, Jamaica (as a physics lecturer). He earned his his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and his undergraduate degree from the University of the West Indies.
He was honored by the profession, particularly over the past dozen years, in various ways, including being elected to the presidency of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association (APA), being selected to give the APA’s John Dewey Lectureship, becoming a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and delivering the 2020 Tanner Lecture on Human Values at the University of Michigan.
Professor Mills died on the evening of Monday, September 20th.
Below is a video of Professor Mills giving the 2020 Tanner Lecture on Human Values, on “the issue of racial justice… and why the subject has been so little addressed in Western, and more specifically, American, political philosophy.”
UPDATE 1: This beautiful tribute to Mills by Liam Kofi Bright (LSE) discusses the importance of Mills’ work in philosophy, his professional generosity, and his capacity for being serious without being somber—“to laugh rather than cry in the face of the slings and arrows of outrageous historical fortune.”
Memorial Notices, Obituaries, and Remembrances Elsewhere:
- Memorial Notice for Mills from the American Philosophical Association
- Robert Paul Wolff on Mills on Lord of the Rings
- An appreciation of Mills by Matthew J. LaVine
- Jamelle Bouie in The New York Times
- Walter Hudson in Diverse Issues in Higher Education
- Jared Loggins in Dissent Magazine
- Lester Hinds in The Gleaner
- Olúfémi O. Táíwò in The Nation
- Mano Sundaresan and Sarah Handel at NPR
- Clay Risen at The New York Times
- Larry Svabek at the Blog of the American Philosophical Association
- Jason Stanley at Institute of Art and Ideas
- Harrison Smith at The Washington Post
- Ali Raza at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
UPDATE 2: There will be an online memorial event “to give space for a remembrance and celebration of the life of Charles W. Mills” this Thursday (Sept. 23rd), organized by philosophers Leigh Johnson and Kris Sealy. You can learn more about it and register to speak at it here. The memorial will be recorded and will be made available for sharing at its conclusion.