Jack Smart has died

The Twitterverse is reporting that Jack (J. J. C.) Smart has died at the age of 92. Smart was a very influential philosopher who, although born in the UK, was regarded as an Australian materialist. Smart held that mind and brain are identical, along with another UK philosopher turned Australian, Ullin Place. However he holds a special place in my heart for his defence of utilitarian ethics, in a lovely civil debate with Bernard Williams (although it was Williams who convinced me utilitarian ethics is insufficient).

I only met Smart a few times over the past decade or so, but he seemed a very nice man, and by all accounts a great teacher.

Postscript: The AAP, has placed a section on its website, where people are welcome to visit and add their recollections of Jack.

2 thoughts on “Jack Smart has died

  1. Sad to hear of Jack Smart’s passing. He was my external and called me for a viva. Hearing that only those on the border of two classes were called – I fully expected a clear first- I was apoplectic with rage when he called me. Callow, stroppy and obnoxious, I stormed into the meeting, expressed my rage at being called, superciliously questioned his knowledge of philosophy generally, and of Hume in particular, almost to the point of inviting him outside to settle it. Throughout this harangue he smiled, amused and indulgent, saying only – at the end- that while most vivas were designed to help determine degree class, some were called to give the external the pleasure of congratulating, and of having a pleasant conversation with, the firsts. “Perhaps,” he said rather pointedly, “I should congratulate you.” A beautiful example of tolerance, and of saying much in little, which countervailed my intolerance and my saying little in much. That viva helped mature me, and I remain grateful to Jack Smart for it.


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