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The University of Connecticut Philosophy Department Newsletter Vol. VI, No. 2 April 2003

            This issue edited by Anne Hiskes
            Designer:  Shelly Burelle 

Welcome to the eighteenth issue of Cogitamus!  This issue covers news for the period of Jan. 1 - April 30, 2002.  The next issue of Cogitamus will appear Fall, 2003.  

Highlights:  Focus on Len Krimerman.  Also read about recent retirements and our new Ph.D.'s!  







Fun and Other News



  • Lisa Cassidy (advisor: Meyers) successfully defended her dissertation "Different Bodies" on April 11. Lisa has a tenure-track position at Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ.

  • On April 22 William Cornwell III (advisor: Millikan) successfully defended his dissertation "Knowledge Without Justification".  William has a teaching position at West Point.

  • Weimin Sun (advisor: Troyer) successfully defended his dissertation "The Concept of Probability" on April 28.  Weimin will be moving to California this summer to begin his tenure-track position at the California State University, Northridge.

Alumni News

  • Congratulations to Andy Aavatsmark and wife Lee Newton on the birth of their son this past spring.
  • Steve Lahey reports that he has published entries on Gaetano de Thiene, William Arnauldus, and Thomas Bradwardine n Blackwell's Companion to Medieval Philosophy, ed. Gracia & Noone. Says Steve, These are three figures about whom nobody can have enough philosophical information. Also, he has resigned from LeMoyne University to pursue the episcopal priesthood.


Several members of the Philosophy Department found the governor's latest "Golden Handshake" retirement inducement too good to turn down.  The Department of Philosophy is sorry to lose Len Krimerman, Scott Lehman, and Ruth Millikan as fulltime faculty. Len, Scott, and Ruth have served their students as dedicated teachers and mentors, the university as wise advisors, the department as supportive and stimulating colleagues, and the profession as innovative scholars. Each leaves a niche that can never again be completely filled.  Scott has served the department as its chief logician and environmentally literate member.  Len has linked the department to real- world social and political issues. Ruth has endowed our department with a degree of visibility not previously enjoyed by inventing a new paradigm for understanding language and thought.  Although Len, Scott, and Ruth leave the state payroll, they are not really leaving the department.  Each will be back in the Fall teaching students, supporting colleagues, and doing their research.

Focus on Len Krimerman

by Anne Hiskes

Len Krimerman is not a stereotypical "arm-chair" philosopher, and Len's Thursday afternoon meeting of "Social and Political Philosophy" this past April was not a stereotypical undergraduate philosophy class. True to his joint commitments to grassroot direct democracy, social activism, and the unification of theory and practice, Len had invited students from UConn's anti-war "Tent-City" to discuss the war in Iraq and their experiences as protestors. By discussing points of agreement and disagreement with each other, Len hopes that students will discover for themselves what they should believe about current social institutions and issues. In a typical Krimerman course, students choose the topics for study, select the assigned readings, and lead class discussions.

Len's life, teaching, and scholarship cannot be separated. Although he grew up in Manhatten, the seeds of Len's social activism may have been planted not far from UConn at a progressive summer camp in Gilman Connecticut where the campers fell asleep every evening with memories of left-wing campfire songs sounding in their heads. Len didn't know it, but his destiny as a philosopher had been set. Feeling empowered and liberated by the questioning, critical stance of philosophy after taking undergraduate courses with E.A. Burtt and Irving Singer at Cornell University, Len decided to major in philosophy rather than psychology. Keith Donnellan, then at Cornell, served as the advisor for Len's Ph.D. thesis defending Mill's utilitarianism.

Len's history as a campus activist began in earnest in the early 1960's with his first academic position at the University of New Orleans then known for its radical integration of black and white students. It was here that Len first became an object of interest to the FBI because of his "links" with Lee Harvey Oswald. The FBI had come to New Orleans to get pictures of people involved in some protest or other. Agents caught Len's face on film not too far from the face of one Lee Harvey Oswald who had stopped briefly in New Orleans on his way to Dallas.

No doubt the subsequent appearance in 1964 of Len's highly regarded anthology Patterns of Anarchy (with Lew Perry) stimulated even more FBI interest.

Soon after Len joined the UConn philosophy faculty in the late 1960's, he and Bob Luyster created the "Inner College" whose purpose was to provide an alternative to the standard authoritarian and book-oriented structures of the academic world. Students of the Inner College determined their own curricula and hired faculty. One student traveled to Costa Rica and Cuba to make a film on child-care. Several Inner College students created a learning program for children in Willimantic. Much to the consternation of several administrators, Inner College students, on occasion, even painted their own classrooms. Seven years after this episode of "creative vandalism" a judge dismissed the civil suit brought by UConn against Len to pay for costs of repainting. (Hell hath no fury like an administrator scorned?) Len boasts that graduates of the Inner College entered graduate school at a higher rate than other UConn graduates. In 1974 Len took a Sabbatic Leave, and when he returned the Inner College had disappeared.

Disenchanted by the response of the administration to the Inner College, after his sabbatical Len chose to teach half-time at UConn in order to devote more time to his political and social projects. In 1975 Len began planning "International Poultry", a worker-owned and democratically organized poultry processing plant which operated briefly in nearby Willimantic. In the late 1970s, he and others began the enterprise that became the long-lived and thriving Willimantic Food Cooperative. In 1984 Len founded and then edited the periodical "Changing Work". In 1991 he helped found the GEO (Grassroots Economic Organization) Newsletter. In recent years Len has returned to fulltime teaching and his long-standing interest in integrating radical democratic theory and philosophy of social science. His 2001 article on Participatory Action Research as a model for social science (in Philosophy of Social Science) pursues the integrating project begun in his other important anthology of the 60's The Nature and Scope of Social Science. Most recently Len has turned his focus on the idea of working for peace through Study Circles and other forms of robustly participatory democracy.

Although Len is officially retired from the Philosophy Department as of June 1, 2003, he is not retired from university teaching or social activism. Len will return in the Fall to teach "Philosophy and Current Issues". Having just returned from a conference in Victoria Canada on "Cooperative Studies", Len anticipates continuing his work on integrating theory and practice, social science and participatory democracy.

As a parting message, Len says that he is most proud of his teaching and relationships with students, many of whom have remained friends over the decades. Len also wishes to thank the members of the Philosophy Department for their support over the years in spite of his unorthodox scholarship, clashes with the administration, and two arrests for protests on campus. Len has many fascinating stories to tell. Ask him.


This newsletter was designed by the Philosophy Department's Program Assistant Shelly Burelle. Please visit our website at: "" where this newsletter is located for miscellaneous links, including links to abstracts, and colloquium updates.

Any questions or comments should be directed to Shelly at