Edward Pols

Edward Pols, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Emeritus, died on August 14, 2005, in Brunswick, Maine.

Born in Newark, NJ, on February 1, 1919, he prepared for college at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School there and majored in English at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1940. As part of his service in the U.S. Army during World War II, he studied mathematics at Columbia University and later studied German language and culture at Cornell. He saw active duty in England, France, and Germany, and was awarded a Bronze Star. He was discharged from the Army in 1946 with the rank of first lieutenant. He returned to Harvard, and earned an M.A. in philosophy in 1947 and a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1949. In 1948- 49, he was an instructor in philosophy at Princeton University. He came to Bowdoin in the fall of 1949 as an assistant professor of philosophy. He was called back to active duty during the Korean conflict, and worked in the office of the assistant chief of staff for intelligence, writing, in his own words, “two lengthy, classified articles for the Intelligence Review.” He returned to Bowdoin in 1952, was promoted to associate professor in 1955, to full professor in 1962, and was named William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Philosophy and Humanities in 1975. He chaired the Department of Philosophy for many years and also served as faculty representative to the Board of Overseers. He held a Fulbright Research Fellowship in 1965-66 at Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, Italy. In 1965, he was one of the three founders of the Study Group of the Unity of Knowledge, a research program supported by the Ford Foundation to bring together scholarship in the arts, humanities, biological sciences, and social sciences. His research combined his interests in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of art and sought interdisciplinary connections between the humanities and the sciences. His philosophical writings included numerous articles and reviews and seven books, the last of which, On Rational Agency, was completed only weeks before his death. He was an accomplished poet, and published a book-length collection of his work, Remembrance of Things to Come. Selections of his poems have appeared in The Sewanee Review and The Massachusetts Review. In 2001, the College dedicated the building at 5 Bath Road that houses the philosophy department and Latin American studies program (formerly Getchell House) as Edward Pols House. He was a member of the American Philosophical Association and the Metaphysical Society of America. He was a member of the Brunswick Democratic Committee and the Brunswick Committee on Industrial Development. Beginning in the 1980s, he sang with the Bowdoin Chorale. Professor Pols married Eileen Sinnott in 1942. She graduated from the College in 1979 as Bowdoin’s oldest undergraduate alumna. Eileen died in September of 2004. He is survived by his six children, Adrian, Cynthia, Elizabeth, Alison ’79, Benet, and Mary; seven grandchildren, including Kathleen A. Reid ’05; and a sister, Elizabeth Scully.