Woolhouse, Roger 1940- (R.S. Woolhouse, Roger S. Woolhouse, Roger Stuart Woolhouse)

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Woolhouse, Roger 1940- (R.S. Woolhouse, Roger S. Woolhouse, Roger Stuart Woolhouse)

PERSONAL:

Born February 15, 1940, in Wath, England; son of Thomas Geoffrey and Constance Irene Woolhouse. Education: University College, London, B.A., 1961; Selwyn College, Cambridge, Ph.D., 1968.

ADDRESSES:

Office—University of York, Department of Philosophy, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, philosopher, biographer, translator, editor, and educator. University College, Cardiff, Wales, assistant lecturer, 1964-66, lecturer, 1966-68; University of York, York, England, lecturer, 1968-73, senior lecturer, 1973-1984, reader, 1984, professor, 1994-2001, professor emeritus, 2001—, chair of philosophy department, 1984-1994. Visiting professor at various universities, including at the University of Pennsylvania, 1982, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1987, Princeton University, 1992, and Rutgers University, 1996, 1997.

MEMBER:

Royal Institute of Philosophy, Mind Association, British Society of the History of Philosophy.

WRITINGS:

Locke's Philosophy of Science and Knowledge: A Consideration of Some Aspects of an Essay concerning Human Understanding, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1971.

(Editor) Leibniz, Metaphysics, and Philosophy of Science, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1981.

(With Roland Hall) 80 Years of Locke Scholarship: A Bibliographical Guide, University Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1983.

Locke, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1983.

(Editor) Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: Essays in Honour of Gerd Buchdahl, Kluwer Academic (Boston, MA), 1988.

(Editor) George Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge; and, Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1988.

The Empiricists, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1988.

Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz: The Concept of Substance in Seventeenth-Century Metaphysics, Routledge (New York, NY), 1993.

(Editor) Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Critical Assessments, four volumes, Routledge (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor) Leibniz's New System (1695), L.S. Olschki (Florence, Italy), 1996.

(Translator and editor, with Richard Francks) Leibniz's "New System" and Associated Contemporary Texts, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997.

(Editor) John Locke, An Essay concerning Human Understanding, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1997.

(Translator, with Richard Francks, and author of introduction and notes) G.W. Leibniz, Philosophical Texts, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Locke: A Biography, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Roger Woolhouse is a writer, philosopher, editor, and translator, whose work involves prominent ideas and practitioners in philosophy. Born in Wath, England, in 1940, Woolhouse earned a B.A. degree with first-class honors from University College London in 1961. Woolhouse spent most of his long career at the University of York in England, where he served as a professor, professor emeritus, and chair of the philosophy department. Woolhouse has frequently written on philosophers such as John Locke and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and as an editor has assembled volumes on these thinkers and others.

In The Empiricists, Woolhouse examines the philosophy of the Empiricists, represented in large part by British philosophers John Locke, David Hume, and George Berkeley. Woolhouse carefully situates the Empiricists in their time and within the context of the culture and intellectualism of the day. He explains their ideas about philosophy and the various approaches they took, then explores the significance of Empiricist thought and ideas to twentieth-century philosophy.

Woolhouse is the editor of the four-volume set Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Critical Assessments. A seventeenth-century philosopher, scientist, mathematician, and thinker, Leibniz had a profound effect on science and philosophy surpassed only by some of the greats whose ideas changed science and philosophy at their core. Woolhouse assembles almost one hundred detailed critical evaluations of Leibniz's work.

In Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz: The Concept of Substance in Seventeenth-Century Metaphysics, Woolhouse examines in depth the philosophical concept of substance in early modern metaphysics and conceived and explained by three major figures in the philosophical world. Reviewer J.A. Cover, assessing the book for the Review of Metaphysics, remarked that "this wide-ranging and clearly-written book offers a judiciously compendious but rich account of the doctrine of substance in the hands of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz." Though the book is largely geared toward an audience that requires an introductory text, "its middle chapters, packed with an exemplary mix of textual sensitivity and (perhaps not ‘disinterested’) philosophical attention to arguments, are sufficiently detailed to repay close attention by mature scholars," Cover observed. According to Cover, "The strongest aspect of this book is its overarching picture of the close connection between seventeenth-century metaphysics and natural science," explicated in the dual-level chapters in this book. Cover concluded, "Of its aim and size, this book is one of the best, splendid for students and enriching for advanced readers interested in early modern metaphysics."

Much of Woolhouse's work concerns the life and work of John Locke. His first book, Locke's Philosophy of Science and Knowledge: A Consideration of Some Aspects of an Essay concerning Human Understanding, set the stage for Woolhouse's own scholarship on Locke. The book offers an analysis of the Essay concerning Human Understanding, one of Locke's more famous and important works, in which he considers the basis for human knowledge and understanding, formulated the idea of the mind as blank slate at birth, and established the basis for much later work in empiricist philosophy. Woolhouse also assembled, with Roland Hall, an important bibliographical reference work on Locke, 80 Years of Locke Scholarship: A Bibliographical Guide.

With Locke: A Biography, Woolhouse "offers an engaging portrait of Locke's lively mind and diverse interests," noted Henry L. Carrigan, writing in Library Journal. Woolhouse delves deeply into Locke's correspondence and his primary works, setting out a comprehensive study that encompasses not only Locke's philosophy, but his complete life from birth. He covers significant events and time periods in Locke's life, such as his tenure at Oxford, the time he spent in exile in Holland, and the later years in which he published two of his most significant pieces, Essay concerning Human Understanding and Two Treatises on Civil Government. Among the other aspects of Locke's life that Woolhouse writes about are the philosopher's "diffidently pursued courtship," his contemporary political experiences, his return to England from exile after the 1688 overthrow of James II, and much more, reported Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor. Woolhouse integrates an exploration of Locke's professional work with his personal life, offering "compelling critical readings" of several of Locke's works with an explication of the events in Locke's day-to-day life that inspired those writings. With this approach, "Woolhouse gives us Locke's life and writings woven into an authentic whole," noted Library Journal contributor Margaret Heilbrun. Woolhouse, however, is no hagiographer when it comes to Locke. He "clearly admires and respects Locke, but he is quite prepared to be harsh if the occasion requires," observed reviewer John Milton in the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Milton called Woolhouse's biography "a useful addition to Locke studies," wherein "the judgments are sober and cautious, and there is a complete and very welcome absence of ideologically driven fantasy." Heilbrun commented, "Now we can be thankful not only for the life and works of this profoundly influential man but for Woolhouse's gift of him to us anew."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of Locke: A Biography, p. 6.

Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review, summer, 1997, Murray Miles, review of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz: The Concept of Substance in Seventeenth-Century Metaphysics, p. 659.

International Philosophical Quarterly, September, 1995, John Cottingham, review of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, p. 353; June, 1999, Donald Rutherford, review of Leibniz's "New System" and Associated Contemporary Texts, p. 229.

Isis, September, 1995, Stephen Gaukroger, review of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, p. 488; December, 1995, review of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Critical Assessments, p. 651.

Library Journal, September 1, 1983, Robert Hoffman, review of Locke, p. 1708; September 1, 2006, Margaret Heilbrun, "A Versatile Mind," review of Locke: A Biography, p. 35; December 1, 2006, Henry L. Carrigan, review of Locke: A Biography, p. 128.

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, May 19, 2007, John Milton, review of Locke: A Biography.

Philosophical Review, October, 1995, Matthew Stuart, review of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, p. 585.

Renaissance Quarterly, winter, 2007, Chris R. Kyle, review of Locke: A Biography, p. 1429.

Review of Metaphysics, March, 1996, J.A. Cover, review of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, p. 687.

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, September, 1996, Daniel Garber, review of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, p. 421.

Times Educational Supplement, February 17, 1989, review of The Empiricists, p. B6.