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Salim Kemal Remembered
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Salim Kemal Remembered

Carl Hausman

Salim Kemal died at home, at the age of 51, on November 19, 1999. Kemal was Chair of Philosophy and Head of the Department of the University of Dundee, Scotland. He was an exacting and careful scholar with a substantial record of accomplishments. His work was evidence of his keen insights into philosophical issues in aesthetics and political philosophy, especially in the philosophy of Kant. He also made diversified and interdisciplinary contributions to scholarship in the areas of the relationship of aesthetics to art criticism, ethics, Arabic Philosophy and Nietzsche’s thought. He was committed to exploring the interaction of art theories and political and social concerns.

Kemal earned his bachelor’s degree at Middlesex University and his master’s degree at the University of London. In 1981, he was awarded the PhD at the University of Cambridge. He was an Elected Fellow in 1979, a Resident Fellow 1984-86, and a Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge, where he also was a Visiting Scholar in1993. He was an Assistant Professor at American University of Beirut, 1981-84. He rose from Associate Professor to Professor at The Pennsylvania State University, 1986-95. Kemal’s competence in Arabic Philosophy was enhanced in his position as a Research Fellow and Senior Research Associate at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, St. Cross College. In 1995 he became Chair of Philosophy and Head of the Department at the University of Dundee, Scotland the position he held until he died. During his tenure at Dundee, he also was appointed as a Visiting Research Fellow at Princeton University, from January until September 1999.

Kemal was prolific in his scholarship. Of particular note is Kemal’s contribution as a General Editor, with Ivan Gaskell, of the Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and the Arts, the first volume of which was The Language of Art History. There were three other volumes in the series including Explanation and Value in the Arts and ending with Nietzsche, Philosophy and the Arts. There are two more volumes in the series scheduled for November of this year and May of next year. In addition to his work as an editor, Kemal authored three books, Kant and Fine Art (Oxford) The Poetics of Alfarabi and Avicenna (Brill), Kant’s Aesthetic Theory (Macmillan and St. Martin’s), which came out in two editions in paperback, and The Philosophical Poetics of Alfarabi, Avecenna, and Averroes, The Aristotelian Response. Two more books, one on Kant’s social politics and Kant and Nietzsche on aesthetics, were in preparation. Kemal had published forty-two articles and book chapters.

Kemal will be missed professionally and personally. Those who knew him saw him as a kind, warm and generous human being. He possessed a keen wit and had a fine sense of humor. His understanding of human needs and motives made him a perceptive and supportive colleague and a very capable leader. He is survived by his wife, Jane, and two children, Sara and Rahim. He also has a brother who lives in England, and parents living in India.

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