Peter Spader (1938-2015)

Dr. Peter Spader, renowned American Scheler scholar and professor of philosophy at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, died January 4, 2015 of heart failure. Born in Kingston, New York, Spader graduated from Alfred University and earned his doctorate in philosophy at Columbia University. Thereafter he taught at a number of other colleges and universities before settling down at Marywood University, where he spent the rest of his lively teaching career. The funeral and memorial service was conducted Friday, January 16, in the chapel at Marywood University. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, who is well-known to those present at Scheler philosophy conferences, for Peter and Nancy always attended together.

Spader was, in some ways like Scheler, a free spirit. He was a member of the Amateur Radio Relay League for many years, as well as an enthusiastic (and excellent) photographer who enjoyed sharing his best pictures in a variety of settings. Until the end, he excelled and thrived at doing what he loved best: teaching students philosophy and provoking them to think. None who knew him can possibly forget his humor, his jocular smile, his laughter – or his thoughtfulness and personal solicitude. He was a man with a great heart, and perhaps it was inevitable that the only thing that could harm him was the failure of his physical heart.

Academically, Spader was more than anything else a Scheler scholar, and perhaps the doyen of native English-language scholars who wrote on him He devoted his entire career as well as countless philosophical articles to analyzing and explicating the philosophy of Max Scheler, who was one of phenomenology’s seminal figures and a major contributor to the development of a phenomenological theory of values and ethics. Spader was an active participant and presenter at conferences on the philosophy of Scheler both in the United States and in Germany and developed warm friendships with many scholars and students both at home and abroad. In 1999 Fordham University Press published his own ground-breaking work, Scheler’s Ethical Personalism: Its Logic, Development, and Promise, which served – along his numerous articles, and with the works of the late great pioneer of Scheler studies in the United States, Manfred Frings – to help establish a working foundation for English-language students of Scheler. Although Spader left behind an unpublished major work awaiting a final edit, his 1999 work represents in many ways his culminating masterpiece, his magnum opus, the culmination of a lifetime of study. Like all of Spader’s work, it is clearly written, and represents a badly needed addition to the growing English-language scholarship on Max Scheler.

Dear Pete, Requiescat in pace. We will miss you.

– Philip Blosser


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