John Schwenkler | January 22, 2019
On Sunday the community of philosophers mourned the death of Gary Gutting—a brilliant scholar, devoted teacher, and exemplary public intellectual who worked for about five decades at the University of Notre Dame.
After receiving his doctorate in 1968 from Saint Louis University, Gutting’s scholarly work focused originally on twentieh-century French philosophy, especially the work of the philosopher Michel Foucault. Over the course of his career Gutting wrote several books on topics in French philosophy, exploring the work of French intellectuals like Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Alain Badiou, and Paul Ricouer. (Non-philosophers who are interested in getting a flavor of this project might take a look at Gutting’s 2005 book Foucault: A Very Short Introduction, which is just what its title advertises.)
Thanks to the influence of his colleagues at Notre Dame, Gutting also developed an interest in contemporary analytic philosophy, leading to, among other things, his 2009 book What Philosophers Know: Case Studies in Recent Analytic Philosophy. And a couple of his more recent books are aimed at wider audiences: What Philosophy Can Do (2015), where he engages philosophically with the “big questions” of modern life, and Talking God: Philosophers on Belief (2016), a collection of interviews with distinguished philosophers concerning the rationality of religious belief.
In a 2012 interview with Richard Marshall of 3:AM Magazine, Gutting pointed to his 1999 book Pragmatic Liberalism and the Critique of Modernity as “the book I’ve had the most fun writing and the one that best expresses my own views on the central issues of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics”:
I defend what I see as the best of the Enlightenment: a commitment to reason and to liberal values, but freed from the philosophical foundationalism, dismissal of history and tradition, and facile atheism associated with its positivist versions. Despite the disagreements among them, I see [Richard] Rorty, [Charles] Taylor, and even [Alasdair] MacIntyre as contributors to the Enlightenment project.
Read more here.