Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Richard Popkin Dies

Richard Popkin, a renowned historian of philosophy died last Thursday. He really was a great historian of philosophy and his loss will be severe to philosophy. Everyone who has studied philosophy at all benefited from his work.

I once heard a story about him that always struck me as admirable. I am not sure if the story is true, but it is of the type that I wish they will be telling about me one day.

Scholars are often very tight-lipped about their research. For fear of plagiarism or just to be safe, scholars will often not share their work with others. This was especially true in the says before everyone was using computers and putting drafts of their work on the web.

It was once told that Popkin had the only copy of a typescript of one of books in his car when the car was stolen. He was nonetheless able to recover the whole manuscript by going back to his colleagues and asking for the individual chapters.

There was always something admirable about being so generous with your scholarship. There was also something very worth admiring about someone whose scholarship was so interesting that there were others he knew who would be interested in all of his work.

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