October 1, 2018
I write to you with a heavy heart to acknowledge the passing of Professor John J. McDermott.
McDermott was a giant in the field of American philosophy, a founding member of the Josiah Royce Society and its President for two years. His The Basic Writings of Josiah Royce, first published in 1969 by the University of Chicago Press and reissued in 2005 by Fordham University Press, almost single-handedly brought Royce’s philosophy back to prominence after a long period of neglect. McDermott’s brilliant introduction to the Vanderbilt University Press edition of Royce’s The Philosophy of Loyalty has become the classic introduction to the text. These landmark achievements barely begin to scratch the surface of McDermott’s matchless contribution to Royce studies.
Those of us who were fortunate enough to know John personally know that there was much to admire about him. There was his indefatigable work ethic, his keen pedagogical instinct, his unmistakable presence in a room or behind a podium and his massive intellectual and moral courage.
Those who were close to John will also recall his near-boundless generosity, his irrepressible sense of humor and his deep devotion to family and friends. With that devotion he allowed neither time nor space to interfere. Even at a distance, whether over the phone or when reading a short note from him sent through the mail, one felt that he really cared.
Philosophers of McDermott’s legendary stature are few and far between, but rarer still are those individuals whose example inspires us to become better and whose love touches our lives deeply. John was one of those irreplaceable individuals.
I know that I speak for many in the Royce Society when I say that I will always remember the fine example that John set for us. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this sad and painful time.
Very truly yours,
Michael Brodrick, PhD
Josiah Royce Society President
Arkansas Tech University