Lizzie Susan Stebbing:
Logic, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Language

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Chronology

L. (Lizzie) Susan Stebbing was born in London on 2 December 1885, the youngest daughter of six children. Her parents died when she was young and was brought up by a guardian. A delicate child who was not expected to live, she had quite a spasmodic early education.

1905-1908: She went to Girton College, Cambridge, but was only able to attend a minimum of lectures due to her ill-health. She read History and took Part 1 of the Tripos in 1906 and Part 11 in 1907. During her last term she came across F.R.Bradley's Appearance and Reality in the library and was so absorbed by it decided to study Moral Sciences (Philosophy). She was unable to attend all the lectures, but still completed Part 1 of the degree in a year.

1911-1920: She took an MA degree at King's College London University with a thesis on 'Pragmatism and French Voluntarism'.

She was a part-time lecturer at Kings from 1913 to 1915, and a frequent contributor to meetings of the Aristotleian Society where she met Russell and Whitehead, and renewed her acquaintance with G.E.Moore. In 1915 she became part-owner of a school for girls in Hampstead with her sister and two friends where she taught History part-time. She was involved in the running of this school for some years. In 1915 she also became a part-time Lecturer at Bedford College London, in 1920 a full-time Lecturer.

She became influenced by the ideas of the Vienna Circle and logical positivism, and responsible for spreading their ideas among the academic community in Britain. She arranged for Rudolf Carnap and others to visit and lecture.

1930: Her A Modern Introduction to Logic published.

1933: In this year she became a Professor at Bedford College London University, and published Logical Positivism and Analysis.

1934: She published Logic in Practice. She was increasingly concerned about with the idea of logical constructions, and relating logical analysis to the construction ordinary language

1936: She published Imagination and Thinking with the poet C. Day-Lewis.

1939: She published the influential Thinking to Some Purpose which became a popular guide to thinking logically.

1943: Susan Stebbing died

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Pragmatism and French Voluntarism (1914)
  • A Modern Introduction to Logic (1930)
  • Logical Positivism and Analysis (1933)
  • Logic in Practice (1934)
  • Imagination and Thinking (1936) with C. Day Lewis
  • Philosophy and the Physicists (1937)
  • Thing to Some Purpose (1939)
  • Ideals and Illusions (1941)
  • A Modern Elementary Logic (1943)

USEFUL SECONDARY SOURCES

John Wisdom : L. Susan Stebbing, 1885-1943. Mind Vol. 53, No 211 (Jul 1944) Oxford University Press.

Michael Beaney: Susan Stebbing on Cambridge and Vienna Analysis Philosophical Studies: Essays in Memory of L. Susan Stebbing Oxford University Press (1948)

This page was submitted by Tony Judge, London. I am very grateful to Tony Judge and all who contribute to this site.

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