Hampshire, Stuart (Newton) 1914-2004

views updated

HAMPSHIRE, Stuart (Newton) 1914-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born October 1, 1914, in Healing, Lincolnshire, England; died June 13, 2004, in Oxford, England. Philosopher, educator, and author. Hampshire, who was a professor at such universities as Princeton, Oxford, and Stanford, was best known for his work in the area of moral philosophy. Originally a student of history, he switched to a major in the Greats, receiving a degree from Balliol College, Oxford, in 1936. Winning a scholarship, he attended All Souls College, Oxford as a fellow and lecturer in philosophy, but when war broke out he enlisted and was stationed in Sierra Leone. Becoming an intelligence officer, Hampshire interrogated prisoners of war as part of his duties, and this experience caused him to become more interested in issues concerning morality. After working in the Foreign Office from 1945 to 1946, followed by a stint in the Ministry of Food, Hampshire returned to academia at All Souls. He then moved to University College, London as a lecturer in 1947, becoming a tutor in philosophy in 1950. His first book, Spinoza (1951), focuses on a philosopher whose ideas had a great impact on Hampshire, helped gain him considerable respect among his colleagues. He was back at All Souls in 1955, where he was domestic bursar and research fellow until 1960, when he took A. J. Ayer's place as Grote Professor of Philosophy at London University. Next, Hampshire moved to America as a professor of philosophy and, later, chair of the department at Princeton University from 1963 to 1970. He returned to Oxford University in 1970, where he was warden until 1984. Hampshire held his last professorship at Stanford University until his 1991 retirement. Not considered by some to be the most disciplined of thinkers, Hampshire nonetheless had a liberal approach to philosophy in which he combined the moral aspects of a variety of disciplines ranging from ethics to politics to metaphysics. He actually embraced the notion of allowing some confusion into his reasoning, rejecting the possibility of straightforward answers as offered by more utilitarian thinkers. A naturalist who largely rejected transcendental and religious ideas, he was more interested in art and the sciences as they influence humanity. Knighted in 1979, Hampshire was the author of numerous books, including Freedom of the Individual (1965; expanded edition, 1975), Morality and Pessimism (1972), Morality and Conflict (1983), and his last book, Justice and Conflict (1999).



Independent (London, England), June 17, 2004, p. 38.

New York Times, June 27, 2004, p. A23.

Times (London, England), June 16, 2004, p. 32.

About this article

Hampshire, Stuart (Newton) 1914-2004

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article