Michael H. Mendelson
May 12, 1956 - November 29, 2016
The members of the Philosophy Department are deeply saddened to announce the death of our dear colleague. Professor Michael Mendelson was an internationally-recognized Augustine scholar and a most valued teacher of the history of philosophy. He was a kind, gentle, and generous man with a sly, dark sense of humor, capacious philosophical knowledge, and inexhaustible interest in philosophical discussion. Students flocked to his courses on Hellentistic philososphy, Eastern philosophy, modern philosophy, the philosophy of music, medieval philosophy, 19th-century German idealism, the darkness called death, philosophy of horror films, and others, not only because of the interesting course content, but also because his own intellectual honesty, quirky perspective, and unflagging encouragement of and interest in them opened personal and intellectual possibilities and affirmed their quests to find their own thoughts and voices as philosophers. Whether in the weekly faculty seminar, in the department lounge, on the patio, on the Philosophy Cottage steps, or on the sidewalk in the rain, Michael loved to discuss philosophy with students and colleagues. He will be sorely missed.
Michael Mendelson received his B.A from the University of Massachusetts and his M.A and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California, San Diego. He joined the Lehigh faculty in 1995 and was in the process of transitioning to retirement at the time of his death.
This is how Michael described his work
In so far as taxonomy matters, it can be said that I have strong interests in ancient, medieval, and modern philosophy, combined with a more than passing interest in eastern philosophy and a recurrent obsession with the endeavor that goes under the dubious rubric of “metaphilosophy” (a bit of taxonomy of which he is even less fond than usual). In both my research and teaching, I attempt to examine various forms of existential and theoretical confidence often presupposed by both our pre-reflective intuitions and the philosophical reflection that arises out of these intuitions. In particular, I am interested in exploiting the philosophically neglected resources of “the gothic,” both in its quasi-canonical 18th and 19th century incarnations and in its even less respectable if more enduring sub-canonical manifestations, as a prism through which these various forms of confidence can be viewed and subjected to reflective examination.
His website, http://www.ruelle-gothik.com, is still accessible.