In Memoriam Charles Guignon (1944-2020)
Professor Charles Guignon (1944-2020) passed away peacefully at the age of 76 on May
23rd, 2020. Charlie received his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in
1979 under the supervision of Hubert Dreyfus. As a student, Charlie was awarded a
two-year Fulbright for a stay at Heidelberg University, where he studied with Hans-Georg
Gadamer. He taught at Princeton, University of Texas at Austin, University of Auckland,
UC Berkeley, University of Vermont, and finished his teaching career at the University
of South Florida (USF) in Tampa. He was most well-known for his work on Martin Heidegger
and taught widely in the areas of existentialism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, and
moral psychology. In 1983 he published the ground-breaking book Heidegger and the Problem of Knowledge (Hackett) which was the first of its kind to bring Heidegger’s thought into conversation
with core areas of Anglophone philosophy. He went on to edit the Cambridge Companion to Heidegger (1993), The Good Life (Hackett, 1999), The Existentialists (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), and co-edit Existentialism: Basic Writings (Hackett 1995) as well as a volume on the philosophy of Richard Rorty (Cambridge,
2003). He also authored/co-authored extended philosophical introductions to the work
of Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Grand Inquisitor, Hackett, 1993; Notes from the Underground, Hackett, 2009). His career-long devotion to moral psychology and the question of
authenticity led him to co-author Re-envisioning Psychology (Jossey-Bass, 1999), and culminated in 2004 with the publication of his last book,
On Being Authentic (Routledge).
Charlie was always in touch with popular culture and had a gift for making philosophy accessible by drawing on wide ranging references to movies, television, music, and literature. His undergraduate Existentialism and Philosophy of Film classes were always packed. Charlie also supervised/co-supervised a dozen PhD students at USF, and served on the committees of dozens more, shepherding many on to successful academic careers. His graduate seminars filled quickly, and he embodied a rare kind of honesty and vulnerability in these courses that made it clear to his students that philosophy and the questions it engages were deeply personal to him. His seminars were rigorous and demanding, but they were always balanced with his own endearing and self-deprecating sense of humor. He will be missed by many, including the numerous contributors to a 2014 Festschrift in his honor (Horizons of Authenticity, Springer).
Charlie is survived by his wife Sally, daughter Michele Guignon (Eric Fitzgerald) of Colchester, VT, son Christopher Guignon (Norah Guignon) of Pittsburgh, PA, and step-children Michael Angier (Cathy Angier), Michelle Turbide (Brian Turbide), Sarah Langley (John Langley), and Bradford Angier; as well as eight grandchildren, Colin, Marielle, Maddi, Lucian, Maeve, Cooper, Eleanor, and Eden.
--Kevin Aho (Ph.D. 2004)
Photos used by permission of Christopher Guignon and Michele Burke. Chioke I'Anson (Ph.D. 2016) has graciously permitted posting his wide-ranging Interview with Charles Guignon. Former students and colleagues have shared their reminiscences. Finally, his children Christopher Guignon and Michele Burke have endowed the Charles Guignon Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is accepting donations.