James Creighton Edwards
Greenville - James Creighton Edwards (Jim) died Thursday, February 13 at his home in Greenville, South Carolina. Jim was diagnosed with renal-cell cancer in 2006, but he was able to live virtually symptom free until this last year, thanks to dedicated medical care and great good fortune.
Jim was born October 25, 1943 in Columbia, SC, the son of Creighton Guilder and Emily Aull Edwards, but he grew up in Woodruff, SC, and despite an extraordinary career as an academic philosopher, he remained at his core a child of Woodruff, with instinctive southern courtesy, abiding good humor, and a great good will toward everyone, great and small.
Jim graduated from Furman University in 1965, majoring in English and Religion and he continued his academic work at the University of Chicago Divinity School as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, where he earned a Master's Degree, and there it became clear to him that philosophy was his true vocation He completed his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In 1970, he returned to his Alma Mater, Furman University, as an Assistant Professor of philosophy, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 2011 after 41 years. Jim was an important and valued faculty member, serving as Department Chair in philosophy, as Faculty Chair, and as Chair of the Curriculum Reform Committee, among many other official and unofficial duties. Jim published a number of books during his career, including Ethics Without Philosophy: Wittgenstein and the Moral Life (1982), The Authority of Language: Heidegger, Wittgenstein and the Threat of Philosophical Nihilism (1990), and The Plain Sense of Things: The Fate of Religion in an Age of Normal Nihilism (1997). But it is as an inspiring, even thrilling teacher that scores of students remember him. They trusted him even when he challenged their most cherished beliefs, and they revered him for it. In his retirement, he organized the Philosophy Reading Group for current and retired faculty, a group dear to his heart where he did perhaps some of his best work.
Rather late in life, he became deeply interested in birds, and he amassed a life list of more than 650 North American birds, traveling to the far ends of the continent, but his favorite spots were the Ace Basin and Townville, SC. He regretted not starting earlier when he had young eyes and ears.
Jim is survived by his wife of 36 years, Jane Scofield Chew. His earlier marriage to Martha Crocker Dolge ended in divorce. He is also survived by his sister, Anita Edwards Ward and his niece Noelle Waddell and her son Caleb Waddell. There will be a Memorial Service in the Daniel Chapel at Furman University on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at 3:00 pm. No flowers please. Gifts can be made to the Furman University Faculty Scholarship Fund, or to the Nature Conservancy of South Carolina.
Published in The Greenville News from Feb. 18 to Feb. 19, 2020.