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Ducasse, Curt John


Early advocate of analytic method in American philosophy, adverbial realist, mind-body interactionist, and proponent of a non-Humean theory of causation; b. Angouleme, France, July 7, 1881; d. Providence, Rhode Island, Sept. 3, 1969.

After schooling in France and England, Ducasse completed his education at the University of Washington and Harvard (Ph.D. 1912). From 1912 to 1926 he taught at the University of Washington and from 1926 until his retirement at Brown University.

In Causation and the Types of Necessity (1924) Ducasse argued that causation is an irreducible and observable triadic relation, a non-Humean view that he defended with ingenuity and precision throughout his career. In this first book he also defended analytic method in philosophy, saying that "[i]t is only with truths about such questions as the meaning of the term 'true' or 'real,' or 'good,' and the like that philosophy is concerned." In 1929 he published The Philosophy of Art, a defense of the emotionalist theory of art and aesthetic appreciation. The realism and adverbial theory of perception so influential on his student Roderick M. Chisholm he first presented in articles in the early 1930s, elaborating it in an exchange with G. E. Moore in the 1940s. His Carus Lectures, Nature, Mind and Death (1951), constitute the most complete statement of his epistemology and metaphysics and include a classic defense of mind-body interactionism. His philosophy of religion, in the tradition of William James, was published as A Philosophical Scrutiny of Religion (1953). Ducasse defended the right to believe where there is a genuine option and no preponderance of evidence. He took seriously paranormal phenomena, especially in relation to survival of death; and A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life After Death (1961) is a lucid and impartial philosophical discussion of the topic. Just before his death a number of Ducasse's articles published over 40 years were collected in Truth, Knowledge and Causation (1968). Ducasse's greatest contribution was his rigorous use of analytic method in the articulation of a systematic metaphysics and epistemology.

Bibliography: "A Symposium in Honor of C. J. Ducasse," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 13.1 (1952). f. c. dommeyer, ed., Current Philosophical Issues: Essays in Honor of Curt John Ducasse (Springfield, Ill. 1966). "A Tribute to Curt John Ducasse, 18811969, from His Colleagues and Friends in Psychical Research," Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 64.2 (1970).

[p. h. hare]

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