Peter Hare, 72, Distinguished Philosophy Professor

Release Date: January 8, 2008 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Peter H. Hare, Ph.D., State University of New York Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University at Buffalo and former chair of its Department of Philosophy, died suddenly Jan. 3, 2008, at his home in Guilford, Conn. He was 72.

Through his writings and teachings, Hare left an indelible impact upon the history of American philosophy, having helped to draw the works of Charles Peirce, George H. Mead, William James, Alfred North Whitehead and John Dewey into central positions in international philosophy.

Hare was the former president of several professional associations, including the New York State Chapter of the American Philosophical Association (1975-77), the Charles Sanders Peirce Society (1976), the William James Society (2006) and, from 1988-90, the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (SAAP). He had served as the editor of the journal of the Charles Sanders Peirce Society since 1974.

He was very active in the American Philosophical Association where he held several positions, including member of the Board of Officers (1996-99) and ombudsman (1996-99).

Colleagues call him "a man of inextinguishable pragmatism, optimism, kindness, enthusiasm, generosity and energy" and say that he will be remembered "with great affection and respect by students, fellow philosophers and people of every walk of life, from Poland and Russia, to South America to Buffalo."

Hare was born in 1935 in New York City, the son of the late Jane Perry and Michael Meredith Hare and began his life-long relationship with philosophy while an undergraduate at Yale University. His master's degree thesis on Whitehead remains an exemplar of multi-disciplinary integration. He earned a doctorate in philosophy at Columbia University where he specialized in Mead's metaphysics.

He joined the UB philosophy department in 1965, was appointed full professor in 1971 and served as chair from 1971-75 and from 1985-94. He worked at UB with a heterogeneous group of Marxists, logicians, linguists and Americanists, which inspired him to bring together disparate strands of 20th-century thought into a unified vision of a modern philosophy department.

Hare traveled widely in service to his field and received many awards and honors for his distinguished contributions to the understanding and development of the rich diversity of the American philosophical tradition, including the Herbert W. Schneider Award from the SAAP, its most distinguished honor.

He was a member of the editorial board of the American Philosophical Quarterly (1978-87), the Journal of Speculative Philosophy (1985-2008), and from 1986 to 2008 was editor of the Frontiers of Philosophy Series (Prometheus Books).

Former colleague and fellow philosopher Carolyn Korsmeyer noted his dedication to photography.

"Many of his works are on permanent exhibition in UB philosophy department," she said, "and at the time of his death he was photographing the Central Park neighborhood of Buffalo for a publication about the architecture of that area."

In 1999 Hare gave two gifts totaling $1 million to support activities of the department, including a cash gift of $500,000 to establish the Charles S. Peirce endowed professorship and a $500,000 bequest to support the Peter and Daphne Hare Fund to help the department meet its ongoing needs.

Hare is survived by his wife, the poet, noted literary critic and SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus Susan Howe; a son, Clare; a daughter, Gwendolyn Meigs, a brother, Michael, a sister, Sara, and two grandchildren.

Hare's first wife, Daphne Hare, M.D., a UB professor and director of the Medical/Dental Division of the Veterans Administration Central Office in Washington, D.C., died in 1995.

Funeral services will be private. A commemoration of Hare's life will be held at a date to be determined at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y. Donations in his memory may be made to the Philosophy Department Resource Fund at the University at Buffalo, 135 Park Hall, Buffalo, N.Y. 14260.

A memorial session devoted to Hare's contributions to the study of American philosophy will be held at the March meeting of the SAAP at Michigan State University.

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