In Remembrance: Scott Whiting Austin ’74 Died on December 19 2014

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Scott Whiting Austin passed away unexpectedly in his home in College Station, Texas, on December 19, 2014. A dedicated member of the Texas A&M University faculty in the Department of Philosophy since 1988, he was known by many as a beloved colleague, teacher, and friend.

An internationally regarded scholar of ancient Greek philosophy, Scott published his first book, Parmenides: Being, Bounds, and Logic (1986), with Yale University Press. He is also the author of Parmenides and the History of Dialectic: Three Essays (2007), as well as many scholarly articles in his areas of interest and specialization. His most recent book, which appeared only this month, is Tao and Trinity: Notes on Self-Reference and the Unity of Opposites in Philosophy (2014).

Professor Austin is remembered in the A&M community in particular for his inimitable pedagogy and devotion to the students. He mentored numerous graduate students and countless undergraduates; served as the director and faculty advisor of the undergraduate program in philosophy for 14 years; and was also the faculty advisor of his department’s undergraduate journal and philosophy club.

Professor Austin is also remembered for the generosity and warmth he showed toward his students, the patient attention he gave to them, and his care for the unique aspirations they held and challenges they faced. He received a distinguished award for achievement in teaching from the university. He came to be celebrated in recent years—and was even the subject of an interview in the Battalion in September of 2013—for the informal teaching and advising that he could regularly be seen to offer while seated on the bench outside of the back entrance of the YMCA building.

Austin received his BA from Yale University in 1974 and his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. He was the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship. He was an assistant professor of philosophy at Boston University.  He was a visiting fellow in the Princeton University philosophy department in 1999 and at Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge, England, in 2004–5. He divided his most recent sabbatical year (2010) between visiting professorships at Renmin University of China, Beijing, and the University of Szeged in Hungary.  

In addition to the college community, Scott was loved and appreciated by his father, Dr. James H. Austin and partner Janice Gaston; his sister, Lynn Austin Manning, and brother-in-law, Robert Manning; his brother, Jim Austin, and brother-in-law, Dr. Bentley Smith; nephew Nicholas Manning; and nieces Dr. Katharine Manning and Elizabeth Manning.

Although plans remain in the preliminary stage, a memorial observance in College Station is in preparation for the early part of the university’s spring semester.

—Submitted by the family.

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