John David Lewis, RIP

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I have learned only recently that John D. Lewis, an intellectual I admire and find inspirational, has died. I quote the below from the web page for his memorial fund at the Ayn Rand Institute:

At the time of his death, Dr. Lewis was visiting associate professor in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program at Duke University, a position funded by the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship and by the BB&T Charitable Foundation. He was also adjunct associate professor of business at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After a 25-year career in business, he changed direction and earned his PhD in classics in 2001 at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England.

Dr. Lewis lectured internationally and was well known and respected by his colleagues at Duke. Dr. Lewis authored three books -- Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History (Princeton University Press, 2010); Early Greek Lawgivers (Bristol Classical Press, 2007); and Solon the Thinker: Political Thought in Archaic Athens (Duckworth Press, 2006) -- as well as many other publications in academia and in the popular press. He was a frequent lecturer at Objectivist and non-Objectivist conferences throughout his career.

Dr. Lewis drew personal inspiration from Ayn Rand's philosophy -- and his work and life reflected his beliefs. He had a unique talent for conveying his knowledge and views, whether in delivering a lecture, writing a book, or in discussion with those around him.
I was fortunate enough to have met Dr. Lewis a few times and to have attended several of his lectures in person: It was clear to me at every single one of these encounters that he was one of those rare men whose great passion for his work was matched by both high personal standards and great energy. When I learned that his motto was esse quam videri, I was hardly surprised, and have always thought of him first when encountering it ever since.

We Objectivists have lost a valiant fighter for the true and the good, a sincere and able ally, and a friend. In Ayn Rand's words, "[A]nyone who fights for the future, lives in it today." I usually find inspiration in that quote, but with this news, I take comfort in it, knowing that it applied to Dr. Lewis in life.

-- CAV