From the University of California, Riverside:
Paul Hoffman (1952-2010) passed away suddenly on Thursday, May 13, 2010. Paul was a world-class Descartes scholar, and a much-beloved colleague and mentor. We will have a memorial service at UCR to honor and commemorate Paul.
We are deeply saddened by Paul’s tragic death. We will remember Paul as not only an important philosopher, but as a warm and loving teacher and friend.
UPDATE: An announcement from UCR Chancellor, Timothy White:
It is with great regret that I inform you that UC Riverside Professor of Philosophy Paul Hoffman passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, May 13, 2010.
Dr. Hoffman was a world-class Descartes scholar. Although he wrote on a broad range of philosophers and topics, he is best known for his revolutionary work on Descartes, which is said to have changed forever the way philosophers think of this central figure in the history of philosophy.
In addition to being a noted historian of philosophy, he was a constructive philosopher in his own right, who contributed significantly to the discussion of philosophy of the mind, causation, free will, and metaphysics.
In the Department of Philosophy, and nationwide among former students and colleagues, Dr. Hoffman was known as an energetic, supportive, and inspirational teacher and mentor at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He was famous for his conscientious – if tough and rigorous – reading of students’ work.
Within his department, Dr. Hoffman was regarded as a remarkably self-less person, who was never concerned with self-aggrandizement, but always with helping others -his undergraduates, graduate students, and colleagues on and off-campus. Indeed, the outstanding success of the department’s graduate students in a tough job market was credited to Hoffman’s guidance and hard work on their behalf.
He organized and ran a Latin reading group, which included UCR students and colleagues, in addition to scholars throughout the nation (including Harvard University).
Born in 1952, Dr. Hoffman did his undergraduate work at Michigan and earned his PhD in philosophy at UCLA. He was an assistant professor at Harvard University from 1982-85, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University from 1985-87, and an assistant professor at MIT from 1987-1992. He joined the UCR faculty in 1992 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1994 and full professor in 2003.
Dr. Hoffman was an avid swimmer and surfer, and was a nationally ranked swimmer in his age-group.
Dr. Hoffman is survived by his wife, Brooks, of Irvine, and his two daughters, Eva and Elaine, both of whom live in Boston.
Funeral arrangements are pending. A memorial service will be held at UCR in the fall.
Timothy P. White