[Paleopsych] NYT: Paul Edwards, Professor and Editor of Philosophy, Dies at 81

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Paul Edwards, Professor and Editor of Philosophy, Dies at 81
NYT December 16, 2004

[Did you know there is a supplemental volume? Cost a hundred dollars or 

Paul Edwards, a professor of philosophy who edited The
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, an enduring and authoritative
reference work covering topics from "the absolute" to
Zoroastrianism, a Persian religion, died on Dec. 9 at his
home in Manhattan. He was 81.

The cause apparently was heart failure, said a friend,
Aleksander Shlahet.

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, first published by
Macmillan in 1967 and still in print, was written by more
than 500 contributors, many of them prominent philosophers.
It devotes eight volumes to nearly 1,500 theories, thinkers
and ideologies of all eras and continents.

Professor Edwards, a longtime instructor at the New School
and at Brooklyn College, wanted the encyclopedia to be
comprehensive even at the risk of creating controversy. The
entries related to existentialism, for example, "point out
confusion and lack of clarity in some of the ideas," he
told The New York Times upon the encyclopedia's

A wry and caustic critic of religion, he wrote many of the
entries on atheists. "It seems to be agreed that an atheist
can be a good man, and that his oaths and promises are no
less trustworthy than those of other people," Professor
Edwards wrote.

In 1957, he edited a compilation of essays by Bertrand
Russell, including "Why I Am Not a Christian," which became
the anthology's title. One of his own books,
"Reincarnation: A Critical Examination" (1996), criticized
religious beliefs in rebirth

"There is no God, there is no life after death, Jesus was a
man, and, perhaps most important, the influence of religion
is by and large bad," he wrote in the current issue of Free
Inquiry, a magazine about secular humanism, a school of
thought that emphasizes values based on experience rather
than religion.

Professor Edwards was born to Jewish parents in Vienna on
Sept. 2, 1923. His family immigrated to Australia during
Hitler's rise to power, and he received bachelor's and
master's degrees from the University of Melbourne. He later
moved to Manhattan and, in 1951, received a doctorate in
philosophy from Columbia.

He taught at New York University in the 1960's, at Brooklyn
College from 1966 to 1986, and at what is now the New
School from the 1960's to the late 1990's.

"Heidegger's Confusions," a collection of Professor
Edwards's scholarly articles, was published last month by
Prometheus. "God and Philosophers," also to be published by
Prometheus, is a chronicle of various thinkers' approaches
to the question of God.

No immediate family members survive.


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