1921 - 2013
Avrum Stroll died September 12, 2013, in San Diego. He was 92.
He was born February 15, 1921, in Oakland, California. After military service during World War II, he received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley. With Richard Popkin and Jason Saunders, he founded the department of philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, in 1963. He was instrumental in shaping the department into an internationally recognized leader in various fields.
He was an expert in philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics. He was also key in establishing the history of 20th-century analytic philosophy as a field. For much of his career, he expanded upon and adapted the methods of Ludwig Wittgenstein and J. L. Austin to deal with a broad array of topics, including explaining the conditions under which people can be certain and justified. His warm enthusiasm for Wittgenstein was as genuine and infectious as were his battles with the epistemological skeptic.
He wrote or co-wrote 20 books and approximately 150 articles. His four introductory philosophy books, written with Richard Popkin, helped shape the teaching canon in the field. Their first book, Philosophy Made Simple, is still in print, more than five decades and a million copies after its 1956 publication.
In 1995–1996 he was awarded the Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award by the University of California. On his retirement from full-time teaching, he was appointed a research professor and continued to co-teach a seminar with the distinguished biologist S. J. Singer.
He lived life to the fullest. Passionate about opera, golf, and good food and wine, he enjoyed lively conversation about politics, sports and language. His friends and colleagues will miss his delightful cackle, his sharpness of thought, and his kindness.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Stroll, a medieval historian; four children, Robin Stroll, Susie Stroll, Ted Stroll, and Noelle Melese; a son-in-law, Patrick Melese; and a grandson, Andrew Melese.
Published on NYTimes.com from Sept. 27 to Sept. 28, 2013