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Gareth B. Matthews (1929-2010)

Gareth B. Matthews was a specialist in ancient and medieval philosophy, who also wrote on modern philosophy, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of mind (1992). He was instrumental in inaugurating the fields of fields of philosophy in children’s literature, philosophy for children, and philosophy of childhood. He earned masters and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Harvard University and was an assistant professor at the University of Virginia (1960-1961), an assistant and associate professor at the University of Minnesota (1961-1969) and a full professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1969-2005).

As the only contributing editor for Thinking: The Journal of Philosophy for Children, Matthews created the column Thinking in Stories, in which he wrote fifty-eight reviews of children’s stories of philosophical import, from 1979 to 2006. He also co-wrote the curriculum series Wise Owl: Talking and Thinking about Children’s Literature. He also conducted National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars on “Issues in the Philosophy of Childhood.” Matthews was fluent in German and Spanish, and wrote Greek and Latin. He taught and lectured around the world and maintained a continual practice of philosophizing with children wherever he traveled, Austria, Australia, China, Israel, Germany, Japan, Norway, and Scotland, as well as in Amhers and at various schools in the United States. His work in Germany was particularly influential in the growth of Philosophy for Children there, and he was awarded an honorary Doktor der Philosophie degree by the Faculty of Education at the University of Hamburg in 2007. Matthews died in 2011 and in 2015 the Philosophy Department of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst founded the Gary Matthews Endowment in Philosophy to fund the annual Gary Matthews Memorial Lecture. In 2020 it launched The Matthews Center for Philosophy and Children.

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