The Anscombe Papers Project
In the News
July 19, 2019
Even for those not well-versed in the nuance of moral philosophy, the weathered notebooks and letters of philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe have a certain pull. Like the pages, yellowed with time, that hold taped postcards surrounded by Anscombe’s handwritten responses. Or the frayed, typed letters that evoke the click-clack-ding of a typewriter’s fluidity….
Click image above to continue reading the feature article on Penn Today, or click here.
Elizabeth Anscombe was one of the leading philosophers of the 20th century, and arguably the foremost female philosopher in recorded history. Her writing touched on most areas of philosophical importance; she is best known for her seminal work in action theory and virtue ethics.
The Anscombe Papers Project promotes the legacy of Elizabeth Anscombe, an eminent analytic philosopher and Catholic intellectual, through scholarly and programmatic engagement with her archive, a newly acquired treasure trove of over 600 items that deepen our understanding of her work.
ABOUT THE COLLEGIUM INSTITUTE ARCHIVE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
Last year, through the support and generosity of Mr. James N. Perry (C’82), a former member of the Penn School of Arts and Sciences Board of Overseers, Dr. Matthew O’Brien of the Collegium Institute, and Mr. Vincenzo La Ruffa (C’02), and through a collaboration between the Penn Department of Philosophy and PRRUCS, the Collegium Institute Anscombe Archive was transferred to the Penn Library’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, where it will be housed and studied through June 2022. This study will build upon an invaluable preliminary cataloging of the Anscombe Archive, which was undertaken by Dr. Luke Gormally, who along with his wife, Dr. Mary Geach, the daughter of Anscombe, stewarded the Archive from Anscombe’s death in 2001 until its acquisition by the Collegium Institute.
The Anscombe Archive consists of over six hundred catalogued items (including unpublished manuscripts in various stages of revision, philosophical offprints with substantial marginalia, personal correspondence with major philosophical figures, and journals) in twenty-one archival boxes. It is a treasure trove of information for scholars seeking to deepen their understanding of Anscombe and her contributions to many different areas of philosophy. Among the most exciting and intimate objects are a journal of remembrances of Wittgenstein, as well as the over eighty letter and postcard exchanges between Anscombe and Sir Anthony Kenny, former president of the British Academy and Royal Institute of Philosophy, on ultimate philosophical and theological questions. These eighty exchanges were the spark for the international Philosophy by Postcard Project, of which the Collegium Institute is the American partner.
The Collegium Institute Anscombe Archive at the University of Pennsylvania is expected to become a nexus for new academic networks and learning opportunities on campus, including four annual conferences based on Anscombe’s work, other special events and seminars, and the appointment of undergraduate, graduate, and faculty fellowships. Beginning their terms this fall will be two new PRRUCS Fellows, Dr. Janice Chik and Dr. John Peter DiIulio, who were recently appointed as the John and Daria Barry Foundation Fellow and the James N. Perry Scholar of Philosophy, Politics, and Society, respectively, and who will be devoted largely to scholarship on the archive. Read More →
VIEW THE ARCHIVE
John and Daria Barry Foundation Fellow and the James N. Perry Scholar of Philosophy, Politics, and Society
Dr. Janice Tzuling Chik, presently an assistant professor of Philosophy at Ave Maria University, has been appointed to serve as the John and Daria Barry Foundation Fellow for Academic Year 2019-2020. Dr. John Peter DiIulio (C’12), presently the Thomas W. Smith Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton University, has been appointed to serve as the James N. Perry Scholar for the next three academic years.
Along with PRRUCS-supported Philosophy Department Scholars, over the next several years the Barry Fellow and the Perry Scholar will dedicate substantial portions of their time to research, writing, events, and symposia related to the Collegium Institute Anscombe Archive at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Perry Scholar will also teach several LPS courses.
Philosophy by Postcard
Philosophy by Postcard was inspired by Professors Rachael Wiseman and Clare Mac Cumhaill’s (of In Parenthesis) experience in the Collegium Institute Anscombe Archive at the University of Pennsylvania. The two were awarded a travel fellowship by the Collegium Institute to support their research in the archive to flesh out their sense of the relationship between the four women of the dynamic quartet. Collegium’s Anscombe Archive consists of over six hundred catalogued items (including unpublished manuscripts in various stages of revision, philosophical offprints with substantial marginalia, personal correspondence with major philosophical figures, and journals) in twenty-one archival boxes. It is a treasure trove of information for scholars seeking to deepen their understanding of Anscombe’s work. Perhaps the most exciting and intimate objects are the over eighty letter and postcard exchanges between Sir Anthony Kenny and Elizabeth Anscombe. These eighty exchanges were the spark for the Philosophy by Postcard Project, of which the Collegium Institute is the American partner.
Sir Anthony Kenny (b. 1931) is among the most accomplished of Elizabeth Anscombe’s former students. Kenny combined an extraordinarily prolific career as a writer and teacher of philosophy, the author of more than forty books, along with service to institutions of higher learning in Britain. He is a former president of the British Academy and the Royal Institute of Philosophy, chairman of the British Library, warden of Rhodes House, master of Balliol College, and pro-vice chancellor of the University of Oxford. Kenny has delivered the Gifford, Stanton, and Bampton lectures, in addition to holding distinguished academic posts in Britain and the United States. He is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, including the University of Pennsylvania (1990), where the Anscombe Archive is now housed in partnership with its owner, the Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture.
Kenny studied with Anscombe while he was a doctoral student in philosophy at St Benet’s Hall and she a tutor and fellow of Somerville College in the University of Oxford. At the time Kenny received his degree in 1961 he was a Catholic priest, having been ordained in 1955 after studies at the English College in Rome.
Kenny began to doubt his vocation to the priesthood, as well as the veracity of Catholic teaching, and while he was serving as a curate in a parish church in Liverpool and teaching in the university there, he and Anscombe committed to maintain a regular correspondence in the midst of his doubts, in order to discuss philosophical and theological issues that vexed him. What resulted was a remarkable series of some 80 exchanges in the early 1960s between two of the 20th century’s leading philosophers, ranging across a wide breadth of philosophical and theological subjects, and punctuated by personal asides that reflected an affectionate friendship that would last until Anscombe’s death in 2001. Kenny, who eventually abandoned the Catholic faith of his childhood, and Anscombe, who had embraced that faith as an adult convert and never wavered in it, present readers with a unique intellectual engagement in timeless questions of faith and reason, as well as a historical window onto Catholic intellectual concerns on the eve of the Second Vatican Council.
Philosophy by Postcard Updates:
In the Fall of 2019, as part of our partnership with the Philosophy by Postcard Project, the Collegium Institute held two postcard writing workshops, one on campus for students at the University of Pennsylvania, and another with high schoolers in conjunction with Penn’s Project for Philosophy for the Young, directed by Prof. Karen Detlefsen.
On Penn’s campus our workshop was led by Prof. Janice Chik, the John and Daria Barry Foundation Fellow for the 2019-2020 Academic Year and Jessica Sweeney, Collegium’s Program and Communications Coordinator. They led a lively discussion over lunch exploring what it means to ask philosophical questions. Both Murdoch and Anscombe were philosophers of the everyday, meaning that they did not feel the need to separate their philosophical pursuits from their experience of everyday reality. This workshop encouraged students to think about what it means to incorporate philosophical questions into everyday life, whether you’re walking down Locust Walk, buying food at the grocery store, or sitting in the library studying.
This event was co-sponsored by Penn’s Department of Philosophy and the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society (PRRUCS).
Iris Murdoch saw a deep connection between art and philosophy. In keeping with this, the organizers of the Philosophy by Postcard project decided that each of the philosophers would write their replies back to the public on ten specially commissioned postcards.
Thus the project and its partners asked artists to respond to Murdoch and/or Anscombe’s philosophical writing. As one of the partners, Collegium had the opportunity to commission an artist to create an image that would engage with the philosophical theme of God and the Good, which was central to both Anscombe and Murdoch.
After searching and going through various artist’s portfolios, we found our choice:
Bernadette is a Catholic illustrator working in traditional mediums, and mother of three. Her work encompasses various subjects, but in particular focuses on devotional images of the saints. As you can see here, her work is incredibly detailed, clearly inspired by the luminous quality of Northern Renaissance artists like Jan van Eyck. You can visit her website and see more of her work by clicking here.
“This work was inspired by both Anscombe and Murdoch, their idea that philosophy can be found in ordinary life and, for Murdoch, the idea that the ‘transcendent’ can be reached through everyday things where the material world can sometimes become a bridge to the immaterial or spiritual. Murdoch was adamant that nature was such a bridge – and art too. I know exactly what she means by this – it’s what I experience when working on a piece of artwork. I become absorbed into the work, totally devoted to it, time feels different, and I am ‘unselfed’, as Murdoch puts it.”
ANNUAL ANSCOMBE LECTURES IN ETHICS
The Annual Anscombe Lecture in Ethics commemorates Elizabeth Anscombe (1919 – 2001), former visiting Penn Professor and one of the most influential woman philosophers and Catholic intellectuals of the modern era.
ART AND MORALITY
On the Relationship between Aesthetics and Ethics
SIR ROGER SCRUTON
CAN YOU DO ACTION THEORY WITHOUT ETHICS?
Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life
DR. CANDACE VOGLER
WHAT IF THERE WERE NO TOMORROW?
Finding Aristotle’s Ethics and the Good Life in Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day
DR. PETER WICKS
The Philosophy and Psychology of Virtue
DR. JOHN HALDANE
Analytic philosophy is associated with a line of founding fathers. Also prominent in its history are the philosophical schools and movements that grew up around its dominant male figures.
What is absent from that history is the collective story of four women who became friends as undergraduates at Oxford University during WWII, when the men who dominated the classrooms and the SCR were away from campus, and they remained life-long philosophical companions.
This special seminar outlines their shared philosophical agenda, method and stance, collaboratively developed in Philippa Foot’s living room between 1946 and 1948. We argue that this shared programme ought to constitute them as a distinct philosophical school within the history of analytic philosophy.
The seminar will be co-presented by Dr. Racheal Wiseman (University of Liverpool) & Dr. Clare Mac Cumhaill (Durham University), moderated by Dr. Karen Detlefsen (University of Penn). The seminar will take place in the Golkin Room of Houston Hall at the University of Pennsylvania. Co-sponsored by the Penn Philosophy Department.
Dr. Wiseman and Dr. Cumhaill are working on a research collaboration project called (In Parenthesis) which explores the work of The Quartet, or Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, and Mary Midgley four female philosophers who met and became friends at Oxford University during WWII. “The Golden-Age of Female Philosophy” is a rare case of women flourishing and achieving collective prominence in the discipline, at a standard that rivalled their male counterparts. Through a detailed historical study of this period, In Parenthesis describes the particular conditions under which this happened.
By examining a brief window, albeit in parenthesis, where the social and intellectual landscape of academic philosophy was altered as a result of the disruptions of the second World War, the current project promises to reflect on the questions facing contemporary women philosophers and the more general question of ‘women in philosophy’, as it is known.
Quaecumque Sunt Vera