Marjorie Grene

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Marjorie Grene
Marjorie Grene, RIT NandE Vol15Num7 1983 Sep29 Complete.jpg
Grene circa 1983
Marjorie Glicksman Grene

(1910-12-13)December 13, 1910
DiedMarch 16, 2009(2009-03-16) (aged 98)

Marjorie Glicksman Grene (December 13, 1910 – March 16, 2009) was an American philosopher. She wrote on existentialism and the philosophy of science, especially the philosophy of biology. She taught at the University of California at Davis from 1965 to 1978. From 1988 until her death, she was Honorary University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Tech.

Life and career[edit]

Grene obtained her first degree, in zoology, from Wellesley College in 1931.[1] She then obtained (from 1933–1935) an M.A. and then a doctorate in philosophy from Radcliffe College. This was, she said, "as close as females in those days got to Harvard".[2]

Grene studied with Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers, leaving Germany in 1933. She was in Denmark in 1935, and then at the University of Chicago. After losing her position there during World War II, she spent 15 years as a mother and farmer.[1] She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1976.[3]

Her New York Times obituary said Grene was "one of the first philosophers to raise questions about the synthetic theory of evolution, which combines Darwin's theory of evolution, Mendel's understanding of genetic inheritance and more recent discoveries by molecular biologists".[4] Along with David Depew, she wrote the first history of the philosophy of biology. In 2002, she was the first female philosopher to have a volume of the Library of Living Philosophers devoted to her.[4]

In 1995, the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology established a prize for young scholars in Grene's name, writing: "Not only does her work in the history and philosophy of biology exemplify the strong spirit of interdisciplinary work fundamental to the ISHPSSB, but she played a central role in bringing together diverse scholars of biology even before the formation of the Society."[5]


From 1938 to 1961, Grene was married to David Grene, a classicist who farmed in Illinois and in his native Ireland. They had two children,[1] Ruth Grene, a professor of plant physiology at Virginia Tech, and Nicholas Grene, a professor of English literature at Trinity College, Dublin.


Books authored

Works edited and translated

*For more complete details see "The Publications of Marjorie Grene" in her 1986 festschrift Human Nature and Natural Knowledge or Grene's C.V.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Marjorie Grene dies at 98; historian of philosophy known as independent thinker - Los Angeles Times". 2009-03-28. Archived from the original on 2009-03-28. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
  2. ^ Grene, Marjorie (1995). A philosophical testament. Chicago : Open Court. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-8126-9286-0 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter G" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Martin, Douglas (2009-03-28). "Marjorie Grene, a Leading Philosopher of Biology, Is Dead at 98". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-06-13.
  5. ^ "Marjorie Grene Prize -".

Further reading[edit]

  • The Philosophy of Marjorie Grene (2002), edited by Randall E. Auxier and Lewis Edwin Hahn

External links[edit]