A high school drop-out who served in the American army and then managed to slip into Oxford on the G.I. bill, Frank Cioffi gained a considerable public reputation in Freudian and Wittgensteinian circles. Frank Cioffi: The Philosopher in Shirt-Sleeves is an account of his conversation written in a Boswellian spirit, capturing the sharp intelligence, boisterous sense of humour and wealth of illustration Cioffi was able to bring to bear on life's biggest problems when he was, as it were, off-duty.
Tackling subjects such as the unruly body, the challenge of art, dealing with failure, the lure of science, the meaning of life, our understanding of others, depression, the case for suicide, and death, David Ellis describes how a philosopher who was profoundly influenced by Wittgenstein dealt with general issues and creates a vivid impression of an unusual and gifted individual. This portrait is followed by a post-script in which Nicholas Bunnin, who worked in the philosophy department at Essex when Cioffi was a professor there, situates him in a more strictly academic context and discusses his less well-known essays on literary criticism and the behavioural sciences, arguing for Cioffi's potential to inspire those seeking a role for analytic philosophy within the broader scope of humanistic philosophy.
A mixture of personal portrait and academic introduction, Frank Cioffi: The Philosopher in Shirt-Sleeves provides an elegant and enjoyable tribute to Cioffi as both man and philosopher.
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About the Author
Frank Cioffi was an American philosopher educated in New York and Oxford. He taught at the University of Singapore, the University of Kent and the University of Essex, where he was a founding member of the Department of Philosophy. His work centered on Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis and Ludwig Wittgenstein. He died in January 2012.
David Ellis is Emeritus Professor of Literature at the University of Kent, UK. He is author of Memoirs of a Leavisite: The decline and fall of Cambridge English (2013) and The Truth about William Shakespeare: Fact, fiction and modern biographies (2012).
Nicholas Bunnin is the Director of the Philosophy Project at the Institute for Chinese Studies in Oxford and a Visiting Professor of Chinese Philosophy at King's College, London. He is an editor of Blackwell's Companion to Philosophy and their Dictionary of Western Philosophy.
Table of Contents
1. Sunday afternoons
2. The unruly body and Goffman
3. Remembering the past
4. The moral career
5. Failure and retirement
6. The lives of others
8. The lure of science
9. But why then do we read biographies?
10. A sense of humour
11. The two directions
13. The meaning of life
14. Pessimism and suicide
Afterword by Nicholas Bunnin
Major works of Frank Cioffi