21 December 2022

Professor Peter Geach

Today is the obitus, or Year's Mind, of Peter Geach, whom readers will recall as a philosopher of distinction. He converted to Catholicism in the early 1940s while reading Greats at Oxford ... and married a no less distinguished philosopher, Elizabeth Anscombe, who also converted while reading Greats. The Geaches formed a last link with one of the principal philosophers of the twentieth century, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and helped to ensure that in extremis he had a priest at his bedside, and received a Catholic burial. Quorum omnium animabus propitietur Deus.

The young Geach proclaimed King Robert I & IV, in 1937, standing on the steps of the Martyrs' Memorial, wearing his scholar's gown and doffing his academic cap. He was not arrested. Not even by a stray passing bulldog. Newspapers in the distant and dusty climes of Texas and the Malay Straits as well as in England covered the event. It would be very jolly to know whom the fifty-odd gathering of undergraduates included. 

The writer Luke Gormally, son-in-law of Geach, informed this blog that it was in 1938, his last year at Balliol, that Geach was received into the Church; the same year, Elizabeth Anscombe was received towards the end of her first year at St Hugh's.

Each of them had received instruction from Fr Richards Kehoe OP. They did not meet until after their respective receptions; their meeting occurred at the Corpus Christ procession at Begbroke, to the North of Oxford, where there was at that time a Servite Priory.

Not now, of course. Needless to say.But if you are driving to Woodstock, you will pass the site ...


Greyman 82 said...

Peter Geach: I recognise the name from my undergraduate philosophy studies. Anscombe & Geache's "Descartes: Philosophical Writings" was a standard text in the philosophy course and I used it a lot when writing an essay on Descartes' causal proof of the existence of God. One of the great British philosophers of his time.

Grant Milburn said...

I am glad that Geach was not arrested in 1937. It shows that in 192 years the old cause had declined from being seen as  a serious threat, and had become a charming undergraduate diversion, the equivalent of donning a Che Guevara t-shirt in the '70s. In neither case are the authorities much concerned, because they know that the students are planning neither a Jacobite uprising nor left-wing revolution. 

In 1937, with Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini on the scene, there were other things to worry about, and who cared if someone proposed an alternative to the monarch crowned that year? (Robert was Bavarian and anti-Nazi and would have been a good alternative to Edward VIII,  had the latter retained his throne. Imagine  Germany and Great Britain in a personal union under a Catholic, anti-Nazi King! The history of the 1940's might have been happier.)

People seen as potential traitors WERE treated severely: Oswald Mosley was interned for three years without trial.

PS: Out of curiosity I opened my Tokopedia shopping app. Yes, I can order a Che Guevara t-shirt at a good price- and this in a land where the Communist Party has been banned ever since the grim events of 1965 and 1966.

armyarty said...

I am sick and tired of the constant accusations against Edward VIII.

WWII was a disaster to be avoided. Hitler was being propped up solely by outside pressures. Perhaps if the hidebound establishment was not wedded to maintaining its absurd and unwarranted guarantee of Polish territorial integrity, things might have been different.

(Ukraine, anyone?)

Instead, a Tory party coup, led by Baldwin, Cosmo Lang, and party-girl Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Duchess of York, ensured the loss of the empre, millions dead, and an immigrant influx intended to betray the British people, and prop up a fictitious Commonwealth. But endless Bollinger for the lady.

And, because Britain has embraced abortion, euthenasia, Frankenstein science, and huge chunks of the Nazi agenda, it was all for nothing. NOTHING.

Perhaps, with the recent death of the late queen, people with ties of affection to her, will be more willing to speak about events related to her mother.

Edward VIII is the most misunderstood and misrepresented man of the last century. It is time that he gets his due, as a man who would actually be King in fact, or not be king at all.