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Paul Edwards (philosopher) : biography

September 2, 1923 - December 9, 2004

Paul Edwards (September 2, 1923 – December 9, 2004) was an Austrian-American moral philosopher. He was the editor-in-chief of MacMillan's eight-volume Encyclopedia of Philosophy from 1967, and lectured at New York University, Brooklyn College and the New School for Social Research from the 1960s to the 1990s.Bayot, Jennifer. , The New York Times, December 16, 2004.

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Edwards was editor-in-chief of Macmillan's Encyclopedia of Philosophy, published in 1967. With eight volumes and nearly 1,500 entries by over 500 contributors it is one of the monumental works of twentieth century philosophy. Using his editorial prerogative, Edwards made sure that there were plentiful entries on atheism, materialism and related subjects. He always remained "a fervent advocate of clarity and rigour in philosophical argument." When, after four decades, the Encyclopedia was revised by other editors for a new edition, Edwards told Peter Singer that he was "distressed that the revisions had diluted the philosophical message and had been too gentle on a lot of postmodern thought."



  • (1949). Bertrand Russell's Doubts About Induction
  • (1950). The Logic of Moral Discourse
  • (1957). A modern introduction to philosophy; readings from classical and contemporary sources. (co-ed. by P.E., with Arthur Pap)
  • (1958). Hard and Soft Determinism
  • (1959). The Cosmological Argument
  • (1966). Ethics and Language
  • (1967). Atheism
  • (1967). Encyclopedia of Philosophy (8 vols), editor-in-chief
  • (1969). Ethics and Atheism
  • (1970). Buber and Buberism
  • (1979). Heidegger on Death
  • (1989). Voltaire, Selections, edited, with introduction, notes, and annotated bibliography by P.E.
  • (1991). Immortality
  • (2001). Reincarnation: A Critical Examination
  • (2004). Heidegger's Confusions
  • (2009). God and the Philosophers (posthumous)

Selected articles

  • (1971). "Kierkegaard and the 'Truth' of Christianity", Philosophy: The Journal for the Royal Institute of Philosophy, Cambridge Journals
  • (1986–1987). "The Case Against Reincarnation", Free Inquiry, four-part series.

Life and career

Edwards was born Paul Eisenstein in Vienna in 1923 to assimilated Jewish parents, the youngest of three brothers. According to Peter Singer, his upbringing was non-religious. He distinguished himself early on as a gifted student and was admitted to the Akademisches Gymnasium, a prestigious Viennese high school. When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Edwards was sent by his family to Scotland, later joining them in Melbourne, Australia, where the family name was changed to Edwards. He attended Melbourne High School, graduating as dux of the school, then studied philosophy at the University of Melbourne, completing a B.A. and M.A.Singer, Peter. "Philosopher insisted on clarity and rigour," The Age (Melbourne), January 14, 2005.

He was awarded a scholarship to study in England in 1947, but on his way there, he stopped in New York and ended up staying there for the rest of his life, apart from a brief period teaching at the University of California in Berkeley. He was awarded his doctorate by Columbia University in 1951. While writing his doctoral thesis he contacted Bertrand Russell because he shared Russell's scepticism about religious belief. This led to a lasting friendship and a number of joint projects. Edwards collected Russell's writings on religion and published them 1957, with an appendix on "the Bertrand Russell case," under the title Why I am not a Christian. He taught at New York University until 1966, at Brooklyn College from then until 1986, and at the New School from the 1960s until 1999.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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