Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Eminent University Philosopher Dies at 99

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Eminent University Philosopher Dies at 99

Article excerpt

Byline: DARREN KELSO Reporter

MUCH-RESPECTED moral philosopher Mary Midgley, who was a senior lecturer at Newcastle University and well known for her writings on science, ethics, animals and the environment, has died at the age of 99.

Born in London on September 3, 1919, Mary was raised in Greenford, Ealing and Cambridge - where her father Thomas Edward Scutton was chaplain of King's College. She later said: "My father was an intelligent man who wasn't brought up with that much religion. He had all sorts of interests from which philosophy also followed on rather naturally."

She was educated in Berkshire, before passing the entrance exam for Oxford University in 1937, where she planned to study philosophy and the classics.

Before joining Somerville College at Oxford, she went to live in Austria for three months in order to learn German. However the worsening political situation in the late 1930s forced her to return to Britain early and begin her university studies.

She graduated with first-class honours from Oxford, where she studied alongside other notable women philosophers including Iris Murdoch, who became a good friend.

"Iris was taking the same course in the same year," Mary said in later life. "She was one of my closest friends for most of my life.

"Iris always rushed off and did all sorts. There was just the two of us, we were both supposed to be focusing on the classics. We were both terribly under educated when we arrived really and tried to catch up.

"She was a fascinating person and I was very fond of her. I saw her a lot but inevitably less so when I came North."

Mary joined the civil service in 1942, where in her own words she "spent the rest of the war doing various kinds of work that were held to be of national importance".

After a spell as a teacher, Mary returned to Oxford in 1947 before joining Reading University in 1949 to teach in the philosophy department. She married fellow philosopher Geoffrey Midgley in 1950, and the couple moved to Tyneside where Geoffrey began working in the philosophy department at Newcastle University. …

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