Mary Mothersill

Mary Mothersill (1924-2008) taught philosophy at Barnard from 1963 to 1993. For all but two of those years she was chair of the department and a leader in faculty self-governance. She was born in Canada and received her BA from the University of Toronto in 1944. Her doctorate was from Harvard (1954), where she taught before coming to Barnard. In the early part of her career, according to her colleague Fred Neuhouser, she published papers on an astonishing range of topics, from metaethics, moral knowledge, and the nature of art and criticism, to death, feminism and pornography. Several of her students have gone on to academic careers in philosophy. In 1984 she published her best-known work, Beauty Restored, which quickly became, and has remained, a classic of twentieth-century aesthetic theory.

In 1986, she was a Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, and in 1988, the Alfred North Whitehead lecturer at Harvard. In 1998, she was elected President of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association. An avid gardener at her summer home on Long Island, in the 1960s and 1970s she actively  opposed the war in Vietnam and University policies that punished students taking part in campus protests.