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Obituary: Professor David Hamlyn

Professor and Head of Philosophy at Birkbeck

Dorothy Edgington, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, wrote: "David joined the Department of Philosophy (which then had just two other members, following the death of Cyril Joad) as a lecturer in 1954.

"David read classics and philosophy at Oxford, interrupted by two years in the army during the war, and then took another degree there in philosophy and psychology. This gave him a lasting interest in perception, the subject of his first book, The Psychology of Perception (1957), and his last, Understanding Perception (1996).

“But his interests and expertise were broad. Among his nine books are: The Penguin History of Western Philosophy; a translation (with introduction) of Aristotle’s De Anima; Schopenhauer; and a historical-sociological study of the role of philosophers, Being a Philosopher.

“Permanent heads of department have gone out of fashion, but David was a model of the old kind. The Department was his. He did everything. He cared about, and was a father figure to, colleagues and students alike. He thought the world of Birkbeck students: he admired them for choosing to do philosophy, for lots of interestingly different reasons, in their spare time. He relished the fact that his students were so varied, with all sorts of background, expertise, tastes and interests.

“David was Vice-Master of Birkbeck from 1983 to 1988, and became a Fellow of the College in 1988. He is survived by his wife Eileen, his children Nicholas and Catherine, and his granddaughter Sarah. He is also survived by a still-flourishing Philosophy Department, largely of his making.”