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Richard Kuhns Remembered
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Richard Kuhns Remembered

Peter Kivy

Richard Kuhns, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Columbia University, passed away on 6 September 2010, at the age of 86.

Dick Kuhns was a long time member of the ASA and one of the most distinguished philosophers of art of our time. His interests lay particularly in philosophy of (and in) literature, and the psychoanalytic theory of art. He was the author of numerous articles, three books on philosophy of literature, Structures of Experience, Decameron and the Philosophy of Storytelling, and The House, the City and the Judge, and two on psychoanalytic theory of art, Tragedy: Contradiction and Repression, and Psychoanalytic Theory of Art.

It was my great good fortune to be a student of Dick’s, in the graduate philosophy program at Columbia, and later to be his friend. He was one of the great teachers of his generation, and many others besides myself owe their first encounter with serious philosophy of art to him. As well, he is to be counted among those distinguished philosophers – Arthur Danto, Nelson Goodman, Richard Wollheim, Monroe Beardsley, George Dickie, Joseph Margolis, and others – who, in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, awakened philosophical aesthetics from its non-dogmatic slumber and made it the flourishing philosophical discipline it is today.

The passing of Dick Kuhns is a great personal loss to myself and to many many others, and an inestimable loss to the profession. But he left behind a philosophical legacy that I hope a younger generation of aestheticians will avail themselves of. That will be the part of Dick Kuhns that physical death cannot take away.

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