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>  News Releases >   2005 >   July

In Memoriam: Willis Doney, Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus (1925-2005)

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 07/15/05 • Contact Genevieve Haas (603) 646-3661

Willis Doney, an internationally recognized scholar of 17th- and 18th-century philosophy and professor emeritus of philosophy at Dartmouth College, died on July 2 at age 79. A resident of Norwich, Vt., and Paris, France, he died in Boston, Mass. The cause of death was pneumonia.

Willis Doney
Willis Doney, professor of philosophy, emeritus, 1925-2005

Doney published widely in both English and French journals.  His articles  and books concentrated on Descartes, as well as Spinoza,  Malebranche, and Berkeley.

A professor of philosophy at Dartmouth College  from 1958 until his retirement in 1994, he had previously taught at Cornell University, 1949-52, and at Ohio State University, 1953-58.  He was a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, the University of Edinburgh, and at Harvard, where he was the George Santayana Fellow in 1956-57. He also gave frequent lectures at the Sorbonne.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pa., Doney received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Princeton University. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa as an undergraduate,  he later served as a member of the Advisory Council to the Princeton philosophy department and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, 1972-73.

Together with his many articles in learned journals, Doney wrote, with Vere Chappell, a bibliographic work, "Twenty-five Years of Descartes Scholarship" (1987). He edited three collections of essays: "Descartes: A Collection of Critical Essays" (1967), "Eternal Truths and the Cartesian Circle" (1987), and "Berkeley on Abstraction and Abstract Ideas" (1987).  In 1980 he published a translation, with an accompanying introduction, of Malebranche's "Dialogues on Metaphysics."

Doney served on the editorial boards of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research and the Cambridge History of 17th-Century Philosophy.  He was a member of the American Philosophical Association, the Aristotelian Society, Societe Francaise de Philosophie,  the British Society for the History of Philosophy, Les Amis de Spinoza, the International Berkeley Society, and the Leibniz Society.

In 1991, Doney led a National Endowment for the Humanities seminar  on the philosophy of Descartes, concentrating on Descartes' notions of essence and existence  in the formulation of his philosophy. On the occasion of Doney's retirement,  a symposium was held in his honor, bringing French and American specialists in 17th- and 18th-century philosophy, who discussed aspects of Doney's contributions to the field.

Doney is survived by his cousin, Virginia Bateman of Glen Rock, Pa, A memorial service will be held Aug. 19 at 4:00 p.m. in the Treasure Room of Baker Library.

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