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Harry Parkinson (1923-2015)

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George Henry Radcliffe Parkinson, known as Harry, was a member of staff in the Department of Philosophy at Reading from 1950. He was awarded a personal chair in 1974, and was Head of Department from 1983 to 1989.  When he retired he was made an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy.

Harry was born in November 1923 in Tientsin, China, of British parentage.  He was educated at Bradford Grammar School and Wadham College, Oxford, where he obtained a First Class Honours degree in Literae Humaniores in 1949, and the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1952.  In 1950 he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in Philosophy at Reading, under then Head of Department Professor H A Hodges, and he remained in the department until he retired.

Best known for his work on the history of Philosophy, perhaps particularly for his work on Leibniz, Harry was closely associated with the journal Studia Leibnitiana from its inception in 1969, and became one of its editors in 1988.  His published monographs include Spinoza's Theory of Knowledge, (Oxford University Press, 1954), Logic and Reality in Leibniz's Metaphysics, (Oxford University Press, 1965), Leibniz on Human Freedom, (Steiner, 1970), Georg Lukacs: The Man, his Work, and his Ideas, (Routledge, 1977). Among the volumes he edited are Marx and Marxisms, (Cambridge University Press, 1982) and the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (Routledge, 1988), together with important editions of Leibniz's Logical Papers, (Oxford University Press, 1966), and of his Philosophical Writings, (J.M.Dent & Sons, 1973). He was very proud that Tracey Emin chose one of his books to take with her to a desert island on Desert Island Discs.

Harry was pre-deceased by his wife June of 62 years by just two months, and leaves two children and four grandchildren. 

Professor John Preston


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