Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Singer dies

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Posted: Feb 16, 2015 10:42 PM
Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Singer dies

BOSTON (AP) — Irving Singer, a philosopher, author of nearly two dozen books and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has died at age 89.

He died on Feb. 1 after a period of declining health, his daughter Emily Singer confirmed on Monday.

Singer, whose academic career spanned 65 years, served on the MIT faculty in the Department of Philosophy and Linguistics from 1958 until his retirement in 2013. He was the author of 21 books in the field of humanistic philosophy, focusing on areas such as the philosophy of love, the nature of creativity, moral issues, aesthetics and philosophy in literature, music and film.

A three-day conference in 1991 focusing on Singer's work generated a book titled "The Nature and Pursuit of Love: The Philosophy of Irving Singer."

At Singer's retirement, he was remembered by Professor Richard Holton, head of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, as a "very distinctive presence at MIT."

"He has always seen himself as a representative of a kind of philosophy that gets short shrift in many analytic departments: one that is as happy talking about love, or film, or opera as it is talking about mathematics or experimental psychology or quantum mechanics," Holton said.

The MIT Press honored Singer's career by establishing The Irving Singer Library, republishing many titles and printing others.

Singer earned a doctorate in philosophy at Harvard University in 1952. He served at Harvard, Cornell University, the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University.

He was greatly influenced by the philosopher George Santayana throughout his career and published his first book, "Santayana's Aesthetics: A Critical Analysis," in 1957.

Singer was born in New York City. He began undergraduate studies at Brooklyn College and served in World War II.

His wife, Josephine Fisk Singer, died in October. He is survived by four children and four grandchildren.