Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dr. Marjorie Grene: Philosopher of Biology (1910-2009)

marjorie grene philosopher

A philosopher of biology who once spent time as a farmer’s wife writing scholarly works before doing chores, Dr. Grene was one of the first philosophers to raise questions about the synthetic theory of evolution, which combines Darwin’s theory of evolution, Mendel’s understanding of genetic inheritance and more recent discoveries by molecular biologists.

Dr. Grene — who died on March 16 in Blacksburg, Va., at the age of 98, her daughter, Ruth, said — studied with Heidegger, Jaspers, Alfred North Whitehead and other 20th-century philosophers. And she drew on their insights into perception and communication in her own vast studies into the history of philosophy. Several of her 13 books were among the first to bring the thinking of Sartre and other existentialists to the American public.

Her sense of humor sparkled when she was asked about being the first woman to have an edition of the Library of Living Philosophers devoted to her — Volume 29 in 2002. Previous honorees included Bertrand Russell and Einstein. “I thought they must be looking desperately for a woman,” Dr. Grene said.

Douglas Martin, NY Times, March 29


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