Illich, Ivan 1926-2002

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ILLICH, Ivan 1926-2002

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born September 4, 1926, in Vienna, Austria; died December 2, 2002, in Bremen, Germany. Priest, educator, philosopher, and author. Illich was a free-thinking former Catholic priest known for his counterintuitive arguments against the Church, education, technology, and even hospitalization. Educated in Rome and Salzburg, he earned his Lic.U.Philos. from Gregorian University in 1945, receiving his Lic.U. Theology from there five years later and going on to receive a doctorate from the University of Salzburg in 1951. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1951 as well. His first position was at the Incarnation Church in New York City, where he was an assistant pastor until 1956. Illich then moved to Puerto Rico, where he was vice rector at the Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce. His opposition to the Church's stand on abortion caused him to be forced out of the priesthood in 1960; he was later recalled, however, and assigned to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he was cofounder and director of the Intercultural Center for Documentation and trained priests and laymen to become volunteer workers. Illich's continued criticism of the Catholic Church led to his removal from the priesthood again in 1969, and this time he did not return. Instead, he took up teaching. During the 1980s and 1990s he taught at the University of Kassel, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Marburg, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Oldenburg, and the University of Bremen. Illich first achieved notoriety in 1971 with the publication of his book De-Schooling Society, in which he opined that institutionalized education was actually a bad way to teach. In other writings he argued that too many hospitals actually increases the number of sick people and that mass transit and cars cause people to lose time, adding that people would be better off riding bicycles. Although his iconoclastic writings drew many adherents during the 1970s, Illich's popularity waned during subsequent years as critics began to perceive his reasoning as either flawed or simply wrong. Among his other books are Celebration of Awareness: A Call for Institutional Revolution (1970), Retooling Society 111 (1973), The Right to Useful Unemployment and Its Professional Enemies (1978), and Shadow Work (1981).



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 242: Twentieth-Century European Cultural Theorists, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Writers Directory, 17th edition, St. James (Detroit, MI), 2002.


Los Angeles Times, December 7, 2002, p. B23.

New York Times, December 4, 2002, p. A30.

Times (London, England), December 5, 2002.

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Illich, Ivan 1926-2002

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