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W. Norris Clarke

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W. Norris Clarke
A native New Yorker, Father Clarke was born in 1915 and attended Loyola High School. He graduated, enrolled at Georgetown University in 1931 and entered the Society of Jesus two years later. His deepening interest in Thomist philosophy was developed at College St. Louis in England in 1936. He continued his studies at Fordham, earning a master’s in philosophy in 1939. He earned his doctorate from Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, where he studied under Roman Catholic philosopher Louis De Raeymaeker. Father Clarke was ordained into the priesthood in 1945 and joined the Fordham faculty 10 years later as an assistant professor of philosophy.

He taught for three decades before becoming an emeritus professor in 1985. "Norrie Clarke was the rare combination of scholar and teacher who continued to have a transforming influence on his students well into his '90s," said Joseph A. O'Hare, S.J., former president of Fordham. In 1961, Father Clarke helped found the International Philosophy Quarterly (IPQ), a journal promoting theological dialogue between Europe and the Americas. He served as editor until his 1985 retirement. Even though officially retired, Father Clarke continued to teach in Fordham’s philosophy department and to publish articles. In 2007, he was honored by his peers at a philosophy colloquium on campus, where he presented a talk, “Integration of Personalism and Thomistic Metaphysics in Twentieth-Century Thomism.”

Father Clarke considered his philosophical journey as one moving from strict Thomism to a perspective revitalizing Thomistic philosophy to include an “implicit dimension of personalism.” He felt that the latter was inspired by the writings of Pope John Paul II.The colloquium coincided with publication of a revised edition of his 1979 book, The Philosophical Approach To God (Fordham University Press, 2007). Additionally, the Press will publish a book of his essays on Thomistic philosophy in the fall of 2008, The Creative Retrieval of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

The author of eight books and more than 70 articles, Father Clarke was the recipient of numerous awards, among them the “Aquinas Medal” from the American Catholic Philosophical Association and a Fordham “Outstanding Teacher Award.” He held honorary doctorates from Villanova University and Wheeling Jesuit College.In June 2000, International Philosophy Quarterly published a Festschrift in honor of Father Clarke’s 85th birthday and his longstanding editorial service. Presenting articles were religious philosopher Louis Louis Dupré, T. Lawrason Riggs, professor of the philosophy of religion at Yale University, and the late Gerald A. McCool, S.J., (FCRH ’40) professor emeritus of philosophy and former chair of the department.Father Clarke resided at Loyola Hall, where he was house confessor. Link (here)
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