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Remembering philosopher Gareth Evans, ‘one of the most brilliant minds of his generation’

Remembering philosopher Gareth Evans, ‘one of the most brilliant minds of his generation’

On Tuesday 30 April 75 students, teachers and guests from around the UK and overseas assembled at Dulwich College to remember philosopher Gareth Evans, whose life was cut short at just 34 years old.

Gathering in the newly named Evans Room, part of the College’s Old Library, guests heard fellow Dulwich alumnus, Professor Ian Phillips, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, give a fascinating talk about Evans’ life and work. Professor Phillips demonstrated in a variety of ways Evans’ spectacular intellectual originality; he also brought to life the persistent tension between Evans’ love for and dedication to philosophy, one the one hand, and the difficulty, even anxiety, he experienced in doing philosophy, on the other.

Guests were also able to visit an exhibition of memorabilia curated by Dr Neil Croally, Head of Scholarship, and Mrs Calista Lucy, Keeper of the Archives, which included photographs, letters, school and university reports, as well as press coverage of his death.

Gareth Evans was born in London in 1946 and attended Granton Primary School in Streatham before winning a London County Council free place to study at Dulwich College, where he was a pupil from 1957 to 1963. In 1963 he won the Gladstone Open Scholarship in History at University College, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics from 1964 to 1967.

In addition to his studies at the universities of Harvard and Berkeley, Gareth Evans was awarded a Fellowship at University College in 1969, and in 1979 was announced as Wilde Reader in Mental Philosophy at Oxford. During the 1970s he published important work in the philosophy of language, but towards the end of the decade his focus shifted to metaphysics and the philosophy of mind. ‘Everything he touched,’ wrote P.F. Strawson, his tutor and the Waynflete Professor of Metaphysics at Oxford, ‘he handled with the same energetic mastery, the same brilliance and originality.’ His obituary in The Times acknowledged that his early death had ‘robbed … philosophy of one of the most brilliant minds of his generation.’

Gareth Evans, in whom ‘the flame of life burned with a singular brightness’ (P.F. Strawson), died of cancer in 1980.

Gareth Evans talk and exhibition in the Old Library
Gareth Evans talk and exhibition in the Old Library
Gareth Evans talk and exhibition in the Old Library
Gareth Evans talk and exhibition in the Old Library
Gareth Evans talk and exhibition in the Old Library
Gareth Evans talk and exhibition in the Old Library
Gareth Evans talk and exhibition in the Old Library

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