Obituary from The Philosophical Society Review No.13 (1991)
Dr ANTHONY S. CHADWICK BA, BD, MA, D.Phil. (1915-1991)
Dr Anthony Chadwick, Founder and President Emeritus of the Philosophical Society, died on January 7th, 1991. Our deep sympathy goes to his wife, Jill and their two children, Kay and Sally.
Tony was a gifted man who was generous with those gifts. He devoted himself to teaching philosophy, which he did to within a few weeks of his death; but his was not ordinary teaching nor did he confine himself to orthodox philosophy. With a unique blend of erudition, enthusiasm and friendliness he cultured an expansive vision of the discipline in the minds of others. With impressive clarity and that deceptive ease which comes only with the command of a subject, he enriched the lives of his friends and students (and it was distinctive of Tony just how closely those two categories coincided).
Tony was born in Bishop Auckland Co. Durham in 1915 and attended the King James I Grammar School there before gaining entry to London University to study theology. He proved to be an exceptionally able student, obtaining two degrees, BA and BD, and winning a major scholarship to Columbia University, New York, having been judged the best candidate in the whole of Great Britain.
At Columbia, Tony had the enviable opportunity to study under two of the leading theologians of this century, Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich. After two years he was appointed student assistant to Niebuhr and he went on to obtain a Ph.D. He then moved to another of America's famous universities, Princeton, where he was a professor of philosophy. After three years he decided to return to England to study philosophy at Magdalen College, Oxford.
However, he retained contact with American academic life throughout his career. He organised and taught summer schools for American students and, as guest lecturer for the University of Maryland, he gave courses in Carolina, Germany and Athens. America made its mark on Tony: it contributed to his admirably liberal view of philosophy and his warm, unpretentious approachability as a tutor. The discerning eye might even notice a transatlantic influence in his dress.
Having obtained his MA, Tony joined the Oxford University Department for Extra-Mural Studies (as it was then called), as Staff Tutor in Philosophy, where he remained for more than twenty years until his retirement in 1983. How fortunate that appointment was for us all. The great breadth of his learning and his facility as a teacher ensured that Tony was eminently well suited to the post. His achievements were outstanding and philosophy flourished at Rewley House and in the three counties served by the Department in a remarkable way, without parallel elsewhere in the country.
Tony was an energetic and innovative tutor. The number and variety of courses increased and with them the number of enthusiastic students. The success of residential weekend courses with visiting lectures led him, in 1972, to propose the formation of a philosophical society which would give students a role in planning an ambitious programme of such courses.
The Philosophical Society had 66 subscribing members in its first year and now has over 180. It proved a means of providing a superb series of weekend courses of the greatest diversity, with lectures given by many of the outstanding philosophers of our time. It was to become the envy of his colleagues and remains his living monument.
As a philosopher Tony was out of step with his time. In an age when British philosophy had become narrow, specialised and introspective, Tony embraced a broad and generous view. He often taught the unfashionable 'history of ideas' and even dared to wander from his field and trespass in such nearby pastures as religion and psychology. This richness and diversity suited his audience with its great variety of tastes, abilities and experience, but it precluded his making original contributions to academic philosophy. Had he lived that may have changed with the current broadening of the discipline and the growth of 'applied' philosophy.
Tony was much more than a teacher. He was a genial friend with a natural charm and a delightful skill in conversation. He was positive and encouraging even to the most diffident student and, thanks to his help and guidance, several people who he had introduced to the subject, went on to study philosophy at college or university. If I may be permitted a personal story: since 1968 1 have carried in my wallet a scrap of paper, passed to me by Tony, upon which is written the time and place for an informal chat with Mr J O Urmson at Corpus Christi College. It was a chat about applying to Oxford to study philosophy. Arranging the appointment and giving me the courage to keep it was one of those small services Tony saw as just part of his job, but it transformed my life and turned a long held hope into reality.
To those who knew Tony, this description of his life and work will seem incomplete, for it fails to capture Tony's uniqueness or explain the nature of our loss. To his family it will be a barely recognisable sketch. Even when supplemented by the vivid and moving testimony of his friends in the many letters of condolence, there remains the inevitable and awful gulf between what we can say and what is beyond saying. But one thing is clear: all those who love philosophy can feel proud that it was represented to so many people by such a fine man.