IRVING SINGER, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF PHILOSOPHY, DIES AT 89
Longtime member of the MIT philosophy community was a dedicated professor, prolific writer.
Irving Singer, a professor emeritus of philosophy at MIT, died Feb.
1 at age 89. Singer was an eminent philosopher whose academic career
spanned 65 years — with more than half a century as a professor at MIT.
Singer was the author of 21 books in the field of humanistic
philosophy, focusing on topics such as the philosophy of love, the
nature of creativity, moral issues, aesthetics, and philosophy in
literature, music, and film. His works have been translated into Korean,
Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish, among other languages.
The MIT Press recently honored Singer’s career by initiating “The
Irving Singer Library,” which includes republication of his books
including "The Nature of Love," volumes 1, 2, and 3, and "Meaning in
Life," volumes 1, 2, and 3; "Cinematic Mythmaking: Philosophy in Film";
"Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher: Reflections on his Creativity";
"Mozart and Beethoven: The Concept of Love in Their Operas"; and "Modes
of Creativity: Philosophical Perspectives." Other books by Singer
include "George Santayana, Literary Philosopher"; and "Santayana’s
Aesthetics: A Critical Analysis." A manuscript in progress at the time
of Singer’s death was titled “Creativity in the Brain.”
A three-day conference in 1991 focusing on Singer’s work generated a
book titled "The Nature and Pursuit of Love: The Philosophy of Irving
Singer," edited by David Goicoechea (Prometheus Books, 1995).
Samuel Jay Keyser, a professor emeritus of linguistics who had an
office next door to Singer’s in MIT's Stata Center, remembered his
colleague fondly: “We were good office friends, and I am so sorry to
hear he has passed on. It is the end of an era.”
Singer retired from MIT in 2013, having served on the MIT faculty in
the Department of Philosophy and Linguistics (and its forerunners) since
1958. Until age 85, he was still actively teaching. Singer enjoyed
teaching immensely, appreciating it as integral to his process of
developing ideas that would inform his writing projects. Several of
Singer’s course lectures are viewable on MIT OpenCourseWare, on topics
including “Philosophy in Film and Other Media”; “Feeling and Imagination
in Art, Science, and Technology”; and “The Nature of Creativity.”
Timothy Madigan, an associate professor of philosophy at St. John
Fisher College, recalled Singer’s influence on his work: “Irving was a
role model to me, and a true exemplar of a man of wisdom. He will be
greatly missed, but his works will continue to live on.”