Paul Woodruff (1943-2023)

Paul Woodruff, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin, has died.

Professor Woodruff was known for his work in ancient philosophy, with particular attention on virtues, the emotions, and politics, as well as philosophy of theater and philosophy of education. His books include Living Toward Virtue: Practical Ethics in the Spirit of Socrates (2022), The Garden of Leaders: Revolutionizing Higher Education (2019), and Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue (2014), The Ajax Dilemma; Justice, Fairness and Rewards (2011), The Necessity of Theater: The Art of Watching and Being Watched (2008), and First Democracy; The Challenge of an Ancient Idea (2005). You can learn more about his research here and here.

In addition to his academic writing, Professor Woodruff wrote four books of poetry, several plays, and an opera libretto, as well as several pieces for newspapers, including The Washington Post. Some of these later essays were about his thoughts on his impending death.

Professor Woodruff started at the University of Texas, Austin, 50 years ago, first as an assistant professor, and eventually as chair of the Department of Philosophy, Director of the Honors Program, and Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Prior to that, he was in the U.S. Army. He earned his PhD in philosophy from Princeton University, and undergraduate degrees from Princeton and Oxford.

He died on Saturday of bronchiectasis.

Below is a professionally recorded lecture from Professor Woodruff on the meaning of life.

Obituaries elsewhere:

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Curtis Sparrer
6 months ago

Paul’s final book, “Surviving Technology” is set to come out by the end of the year. His last request is that it will only be available in print. You can reserve your copy here: