Tad Beckman

Professor of Philosophy Emeritus

I came to Harvey Mudd College in 1961 as an assistant professor in chemistry, having earned a PhD in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. However, my interest in philosophy had been thoroughly sparked while I was anundergraduate at Northwestern University. The ‘60s was an upsetting period in American history, with civil rights confrontations, protests against the war in Vietnam, and assassinations of important leaders. I found myself wanting to turn away from the blackboard to face my students and discuss issues of the day.

Throughout the ‘60s and with the permission of President Platt and my department chair, Art Campbell, I attended summer philosophy workshops, culminating with a sabbatical leave in 1968–9 at The London School of Economics in Karl Popper’s department of philosophy of science. In the fall of 1970, I moved into the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences as associate professor of philosophy.

Over the following 32 years, my interests in philosophy changed from Philosophy of Science to Continental Philosophy and Environmental Philosophy. I also taught a full program in the History of Philosophy, including American Philosophy. The department’s freshman year program allowed me to teach a freshman seminar on “Indigenous People of the Western US” and, in the late ’90s, I also began teaching small classes in photography, which I continued doing into retirement. The results of all of this can be seen in about a dozen Amazon Kindle publications.

I was chair of the department from 1985 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2001.

Prof. Beckman’s personal site.