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Michael Durrant

1934-2018

Michael Durrant

Michael Durrant was born on 1st January 1934 in Northamptonshire, where he received his secondary education at Eaglehurst College. From 1952 until 1954 he undertook National Service in the Army Education Corps, stationed in York. He then went to the University of Leeds, where he was awarded his BA in philosophy and history in 1958. He gained his BPhil from St. Catherine’s College, Oxford in 1962. Except for a visiting professorship at the University of Nebraska in 1965-6, the whole of his academic career was spent at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (now Cardiff University), where he was appointed as Assistant Lecturer in philosophy in 1962 and as Lecturer in 1963.

He used to relate that his Wittgensteinian colleagues at Lincoln, Nebraska were so rattled by his criticisms of their stance that they flew in the leading philosopher Professor O. K. Bouwsma to fortify their responses to his criticisms.

After returning to Cardiff, he was promoted to the rank of senior lecturer in 1972, and to reader in Philosophy in 1978. He served as Head of the Department of Philosophy from May to September 1987, and then as Head of the Philosophy Section of the School of English Studies, Journalism and Philosophy (now ENCAP) until 1991. Having retired from full-time work in September 1999, he was appointed honorary senior research fellow. He served on the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy until 2003. More importantly, he was a member of the Executive Committee of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion at its inception, and founder-member and first President of the European Society for the Philosophy of Religion, both of which are forums for leading academics in philosophy and theology.

Michael’s teaching and research interests included philosophical logic, ancient philosophy and philosophy of religion. He published many articles in leading journals on philosophical logic, including two in Mind, and also after retirement his book Sortals and the Subject-Predicate Distinction (2001), which was edited by Stephen Horton. In the field of ancient philosophy, he edited a collection entitled Aristotle’s De Anima In Focus (1993). His main published contributions to the philosophy of religion were two books both published in 1973: Theology and Intelligibility and The Logical Status of ‘God’: there were also several articles published in the leading journals in this field. Equally significant was his role in the setting up of two learned societies, the British Society for Philosophy of Religion, and the European Society for Philosophy of Religion, of which he was both a founder member and the first President. The latter Society has expressed particular gratitude to Michael for setting up a network of philosophers of religion across Europe, and is commemorating his contribution at their meeting in Prague in August 2018.

His teaching was not always easy to follow, but together with his commitment to philosophy inspired many of our abler students to high levels of achievement. His greatest challenge (and success) came when the survival of Philosophy at Cardiff was at risk in 1987; he came to the fore in a crisis, and as Head of Philosophy steadfastly led the depleted remnants of Philosophy staff into a more secure and established future within the School of English Studies, Communication and Philosophy. He was also Chair of the Governors of St. Teilo’s Church in Wales Comprehensive School, and an accomplished organist, not least at St. Denys, Lisvane, in the churchyard of which his grave can be found.

He and his wife Rosemary enjoyed a long and happy marriage. He is survived by Rosemary, and by their sons Nicolas, Martin and Stephen.

Dr Kathryn Plant, School of English, Communication and Philosophy
School of English, Communication and Philosophy