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The Anscombe Papers Project

G.E.M. ANSCOMBE

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 ARCHIVE

The Anscombe Archive consists of over six hundred catalogued items (including unpublished manuscripts in various stages of revision, philosophical offprints with substantial marginalia, personal correspondence with major philosophical figures, and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’s work. A summary of contents is available upon request. 

partnering with:

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  Collegium’s Anscombe Archive consists of over six hundred catalogued items (including unpublished manuscripts in various stages of revision, philosophical offprints with substantial marginalia, personal correspondence with major philosophical figures, and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.

this project celebrates the centenary of the birth of Iris Murdoch and her collaboration with Anscombe, Midgley and Foot. It is a public philosophy project introducing #slowphilosophy to the wider public, bringing together artists, philosophers and the general public to connect via postcard.

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. 

PAST LECTURES

2017 

ART AND MORALITY

On the Relationship between Aesthetics and Ethics

SIR ROGER SCRUTON

2016

CAN YOU DO ACTION THEORY WITHOUT ETHICS? 

Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life

DR. CANDACE VOGLER

2015

WHAT IF THERE WERE NO TOMORROW? 

Finding Aristotle’s Ethics and the Good Life in Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day

DR. PETER WICKS

2014

ACTING WELL

 The Philosophy and Psychology of Virtue

DR. JOHN HALDANE

FALL 2018 EVENTS

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.

Space is limited, registration required no later than noon on September 12th : https://bit.ly/2ClAJfZ

 

Quaecumque Sunt Vera