Obituary- David Evans

David Evans, Emeritus Professor of Logic and Metaphysics since 2007

After many months in and out of hospital, Emeritus Professor David Evans died of cancer in the Royal Victoria Hospital on 27th September 2009 with his wife Rosemary at his side.   Born in London on the 27th August 1942, he was educated at St Edward’s School, Oxford, from where he won an Open Scholarship in Classics to Queens' College, Cambridge.   First Class Honours in both parts of the Classical Tripos followed, and after a year of advanced research as a Craven Student he became a Research Fellow and, after only one further year, an Official Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.   With B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. all from Cambridge, he moved from his exacting scholarship in classics to study the history of philosophy and to engage in current debates in international analytical philosophy, his distinction leading to appointment in 1972-73 as Visiting Professor in the Philosophy Department at Duke University, USA.  

From Sidney Sussex he came in 1978 to the Chair of Logic and Metaphysics at Queen's University and continued to prove his academic distinction with well over one hundred articles and reviews in addition to his two sole authored books on Aristotle and three edited books, one on moral philosophy and two on the philosophy of education, a corpus of meritorious work early recognised by election to Membership of the Royal Irish Academy in 1983.   He effortlessly contributed to Queen’s administration as Head of the Philosophy Department, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and Director of the School of Philosophical and Anthropological Studies, during one period all at the same time.   His energy and consistently positive attitude meant that he was always on call for University affairs and nationally, being very active in, among many others, the committees of the Royal Irish Academy and the UK National Committee for Philosophy (later British Philosophical Association), in the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education’s Philosophy benchmarking group, and chairing the UK Funding Council for Higher Education Research Assessment Exercise 2001 Philosophy Panel.  

Yet he was most famed for his position as an international philosophy statesman:  apart from hundreds of invited lectures given in dozens of countries, he was for over twenty years a member of the Steering Committee of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP, the world-wide UNESCO-associated body which organises philosophy Olympiads and world congresses), and was at the time of his death Président, Commission de Politique Générale of that Federation.   He acted on many occasions in support of philosophy departments at risk, succeeding yet again only months ago.   Travelling so widely, travel was not needed to broaden his mind, which was already (having mastered so many languages and so many trains of thought) broad enough;  rather, he broadened the minds of those he travelled to with great learning, deep philosophical understanding, social conviviality and charming conversation.


Jonathan Gorman