Remembering my father, Professor Joseph J. Kockelmans

This blog post is extremely special to me. It is a memorial to my late father, Professor Joseph John Kockelmans. Professor Kockelmans, or Pop as I called him, was born in or near Meerssen, Holland on December 1st, 1923.

Dad, a professor of philosophy with great knowledge in religion as well, studied and taught these subjects in Holland before moving to the United States, where he taught at the University of Pittsburgh from 1965 until 1968. Then he moved to State College, PA. with his family and began teaching at the Pennsylvania State University until he retired in 1993.

Even though my dad was a full tenured professor, he remembered the rule to, “publish or perish,” and wrote over 30 books dealing with philosophy and religion, as well as numerous articles. He also was sought after to teach all over the world. In the early years when I was a child and travel was less expensive, Pop would take the family with him to Europe. He lectured in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, as well as twice in Rome. I have vivid memories and many pictures of those trips.

As a child I sometimes felt as though dad was too busy. Most times he would be upstairs in his office typing away, either working on a book or preparing for the next day’s lecture. I was too young to understand that he was taking care of his family the best way he knew how, by doing the work that he felt so passionate about.

My father specialized in the philosophies of Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl and taught them very well. Though I never had the pleasure of taking one of my father’s classes, I heard from many of his students that he challenged them intellectually, yet used language that was easily understood. He was able to get his points across without confusion.

My father was president of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association, also known as the APA, from July 1, 1986 to June 30, 1987. I called the APA today to get the dates, and a very nice woman looked it up and got back to me within minutes with the exact information. I also got some information from John Protevi’s blog post written just after my father’s death.

One of his favorite times was Christmas. He and I would set up the Christmas tree as my mother would unpack the manger set. Dad also made the Christmas wreath for the dining room table every year. They were works of art. When I was little and wanted to go for a ride to see Christmas lights around town, he always got excited and put his work aside for that special hour that his son enjoyed so much.

In Dad’s later years, his health declined and a new office was added on to the family house, thus eliminating the danger of climbing stairs. When Mother passed in 2003, I moved back to the house and took care of Pop until he passed away in 2008. I remember my father as being strong, witty, loyal and true. He was a kind man who would spend extra time with students if they needed it and sat on many doctoral committees.

Update: Thanks to everyone who has read and enjoyed this blog post, as well as my other entries. I do have an update for this blog entry about my father.

My father’s official title was Joseph J. Kockelmans, Bacc, Lic, PhD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the Pennsylvania State University. I got this information from the Purdue University Press entry on my father’s book Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology.

I hope this doesn’t send a notification to everyone twice. This is the first time that I’ve had to update a post. I’m still in the trial and error time period. I’m still learning how this all goes.

62 thoughts on “Remembering my father, Professor Joseph J. Kockelmans

  1. Nice remembrance. I can remember your Dad and mine taking walks around the circle and talking. Despite the vast differences in their disciplines (my Dad was a physicist,) Dad was well grounded in the liberal arts and thoroughly enjoyed their chats. If I recall, the cat our families shared – Nameless – often joined them on their walks, earning himself the title of “Most Admirable Cat.”

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    1. Hi, Tom. Thanks for your kind words about Dad’s post. It took my writing assistant and I a number of weeks to get it ready, because we were doing some research on it. I’m very pleased with the way it turned out and I hope it gets a lot of views. Thanks again. Take care and hello to everyone.

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  2. Hi. Back in 1975 I sat in with Prof. Kockelmans class re Husserl— I didn’t understand a word anyone said. But, I sure enjoyed your father. We had lunch a couple of times. He was fascinated by my interest (at the time I was working in the mines over near Clearfield) and welcomed me. It was fun to hear his stories. I think he said that he stored some of his wife’s fur coats at Clearfield Furs. We laughed about that. A Pennsylvania coal miner from the same town that preserved furs. Who’d a thunk. Anyway, I am grateful for the brief time I spent with your dad— he seemed like an extraordinary individual.

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    1. Robert, I am sorry it took me so long to reply to your kind comment. Over a year! I don’t even know if you will see this. But in case you do: Thank you. Every kid thinks his father was extraordinary, but not many sons get to hear it confirmed by other people. I hope you are still enjoying the blog, and therefore might see this. -Joseph-

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  3. I’m so sorry to learn of your father’s passing and that I didn’t have the opportunity to see him after he left Pitt, nor will again. I took Phenomenology of Perception with him in 1967, followed by an independent study on Sein und Zeit, feeling immensely privileged to have that experience. Just as others described, he had a wonderful way of making abstruse concepts accessible, and with a warmth and wit that I remember fondly, forty-five years later.

    One example of the type of grounding he provided, regarding some of the more agonizing aspects of nothingness (?)* was taking a chair and asking us, ‘well, if this is a real chair that I’m sitting on, then I don’t have a problem, and, if it is not, I still don’t have a problem.’ The weight of the ‘world’ was lifted for us, and his classes made philosophy intriguing and fun. In a program, which at the time, seemed devoted to equating a rigourous ‘philosophy of science’ to a somber landscape of symbols and equations, he made these leaps of thought a joyful experience, while never neglecting the development of our analytical skills.

    I think in that respect he was out of his natural element, and I had hoped when he left Pitt that the move was to a dept. with a less rigid approach. I moved on to Classics as a major, briefly, to study Classical Greek, primarily because he made it seem like the freshness of the first dawn existed in the ‘logos’ of the Greek words that formed our very consciousness–that is what he conveyed as he described the meaning of ‘aletheia’. Several majors and other more prosaic degrees later, after all this time, your father’s gift to me was a sense of wonder at our very ability to experience and perceive the world, and how essential the words I took for granted are as the medium for this.

    You are very very lucky to have had such a father, even if immersed in his work much of the time, which you clearly know. His spirit was, and I hope is, a great gift to so many.

    * While I may have forgotten the exact question this resolved, I’ll never forget the wry wit of that moment. It was to me (non Ph.D. in Philosophy and far from academia today) taking Occram’s Razor to the Gordian Knot, and a reference point for me even now 🙂

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  4. Opps–this is what comes from posting at 4:00 am. The way your father posed this question was: ‘If this is a real chair I’m sitting on, what is my problem? And, if it is not a real chair I’m sitting on, then what is my problem then?’ It’s been a long time… and I’m a bit nostalgic for that time, as is probably pretty obvious. For a few minutes I could relive those moments, but, in the end, I’m saddened by his loss, even with the reality of all of our aging.

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    1. Greetings, Kathy. I hope you are having a good day today. Very sorry it took so long for me to reply. I want to thank you for your kind words about my father. He was a wonderful Dad, Pop as I called him, and yes, quite immersed in his work. When I was a little boy, sometimes I thought he didn’t care, but later on I realized he was so immersed in his profession and wanting to provide for his family that he was simply doing what came naturally to him. He was working. Would I call him a workaholic? Absolutely not. As I posted before, he certainly took time for his family, especially during the holidays. Again, thank you for your kind words, and I invite you to keep reading and enjoying. -Joseph-

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  5. I met Joseph Kockelmans when I was a Ph.D student. He was already retired and I was referred to see him by a member of my committee who knew I was being prevented from graduating at Penn State to provide free labor to a professor, and her husband the department chair. Your dad came to my rescue after Rodney Erickson threatened me that I should not stand up against the abuse and nepotism in which I was trapped. Dr. Kockelmans had this strong, quiet confidence and he pulled my committee members together to rescue me. He must have known what much of the world now knows about the upper administration at Penn State and that if I had tried to stand up for my rights, I would have lost a great deal. I call Dr. Kockelmans my winged angel, not only because he saved me, but because his graduation gown was so ornate and when he walked across the stage during the PhD graduation ceremony, his presence glowed, in keeping with the spiritual man that he was. His memory is tucked in my heart forever surrounded in a shroud of gratitude and admiration.

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    1. Hello Lorie, I am so touched by your kind words & very glad that my father was able to help you obtain your academic goals. My dad always hated it when people were treated unjustly. By the way, I think I have a picture of the graduation where pop wore that gown. If I can find it, I’ll post it to my new pictures area on my blog. Thanks again for your comment. : ) -Joseph M. Kockelmans-….. your wingwed angel’s son.

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  6. I took a seminar on Heidegger with your father as an overambitious undergrad, shortly before he retired. I was pretty full of myself, but Professor Kockelmans was an excellent teacher and very patient with me, and he instilled in me a lifelong respect for Heidegger’s work. I am sorry to hear of his passing.

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    1. David, Thank you for your kind words. They are most appreciated. I am touched by how many people have good memories of Pop. Hope you are enjoying the blog. -Joseph-

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  7. What a pleasure to read this. Though you won’t remember it, I met you once when your father was my dissertation chair. I also met your mother when your parents took me out to dinner to celebrate my successful dissertation defense. He is largely responsible, for many reasons, for my finishing my Ph.D. and having a career at all. Although I was working on the dissertation at a distance, he never lost touch with me and was a constant source of encouragement. I took many of his courses, including his summer program in Phenomenology, and so enjoyed all of them. In a field of raging egos, he was humble and humorous and full of entertaining stories, all of which led back to philosophical principles. He did wear many hats; once, when I had a meeting with him at an office on campus that I didn’t know he had (not his usual faculty office), he joked, “Yes, it takes four offices for me to be Joseph J. Kockelmans.” Thank you for sharing your father with us (his academic kids).

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    1. Hi, Joy. Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog post about my Dad. I’m very glad that you enjoyed reading it and I’m also glad that you enjoyed his courses. It always gives me a nice feeling to know that his legacy lives on in all the people he taught and helped. I miss him every day, as I do my mother, and it is kind comments like this that not only puts a smile on his son’s face, but also makes me quite proud of him, as I have always been. Take care, Joy, and thanks again. -Joseph-

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  8. I was a student of your father’s as a grad student at Penn State back in the ’90’s. When I arrived there in 1993, he was still teaching classes, and I had the opportunity to take several with him: Research Methods, Hermeneutics, and Aristotle’s Metaphysics. He was my mentor too, so I sometimes talked with him over lunch or a beer. He was for me a kind of exemplar, both as a philosopher/intellectual (the breadth and depth of the man’s knowledge were unparalleled and inspiring!) but also as a kind, human-hearted person, with a wonderful sense of humility and humor. He was a real mensch. I have so many fond memories of him, and was saddened to hear that he had passed away. But I very much enjoyed reading your remembrance of him.

    I actually stumbled across your blog while looking for a photo of your dad online. I’ve been hanging small portraits in my office of teachers who played a pivotal role in my life. Surprisingly, I wasn’t able to find any photos out there of Professor Kockelmans! I wonder if you might have a pdf of a nice photo that you would be willing to share? If not, or if you’d rather not pass on something like that, I totally understand! In any case, thank you for this blog. It was nice to revisit Professor Kockelmans through it.

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    1. Hello, Peter. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the blog entry about my dad. He was a wonderful father and, I’m quite sure, a fantastic professor. I never took any classes from him, but most people I’ve talked to give him high praise. I do believe I have a photo of Pop in a keepsake box in my closet. What I’ll do is take it, and get it scanned to a disc, then put it on my computer so that I can send it along to you. I shall be most happy to do so. It might take a week or so; I hope that is okay. Again, thanks for reading. Take care and have a good day. -Joe-

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      1. Thanks you, Joe–that would be wonderful! I very much look forward to it!

        Best, Pete

        Peter S. Groff Associate Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair Bucknell University Lewisburg, PA 17837 (570) 577-3130

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        1. Hi Peter, It’s Joe Kockelmans again, with apologies. I have been quite under the weather and am just now getting back to 100%. I will locate the photo of Dad next week and get it added to this site’s gallery page. From there, I think you could download it for yourself. If you still need me to send it to you after that, let me know and I will do that. Take care, -Joe-

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  9. I studied under your father at Penn State in the early 1980s. He was a wonderful man, and spent much time with me, even though I was a very immature undergrad. He was a fantastic professor, one of the ones who inspired me to become a philosopher myself.

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    1. Thank you very much Eric for your comment. I am so glad that you enjoyed your time as a student of my father. I miss both him and my mom terribly. The blog entry I wrote about my father is the most read and the most popular one that I have done so far as a blogger. When I first wrote it I thought it might be big. I had no idea, however, just how huge it would turn out to be. Please do keep reading. 🙂 -Joe-

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  10. I was thinking about your father this week, and looked around until I found this. Your description of him is as I knew him, being his student for several years through my PhD. “I remember my father as being strong, witty, loyal and true. He was a kind man who would spend extra time with students if they needed it and sat on many doctoral committees.” He was all that, and more.

    As my wife just said, looking over my shoulder, “He was such a good man!” It is true that I would not have finished my work without his pushing me, and making it possible to make my way through the final hurdles of the bureaucracy of Penn State. I still remember the wonderful evening we had, following the final defense of the dissertation, with him hosting us at the Nittany Lion Inn. He was so gracious, and so generous, and so gifted.

    One of the very special gifts he gave me was this. On the completion of my written comprehensive exams, he led the committee to make this proposal: we want to invite you to write a book, not only a dissertation. At that point in my life, that was the only motivator that would make it possible. So I did– and my dissertation was published, and has had 25 printings, and two editions.

    I always wished that I could have seen him again, so to read of his death is sad to me, as it a grief to you.

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    1. Hello, Steven. I’m so glad that my father was able to assist you in so many ways. He was a wonderful father and a brilliant teacher. I am interested in your published work; what is the title? Thank you for your kind words about Dad. He was an inspiration to many. -Joseph-

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      1. He was all that and more, Joseph.

        I am attaching some links to the dissertation-become-book.

        http://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com/reviews/the_fabric_of_faithfulness_wea/

        http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/173057.The_Fabric_of_Faithfulness

        http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Fabric_of_Faithfulness.html?id=xh_2hZGvuIYC

        And this spring, another book has come out, Visions of Vocation. Not a follow-up, but perhaps a deepening of the argument.

        I am glad to hear from you.

        Steven

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  11. Hi,
    I was an undergraduate at Penn State from 1975 to 1980. I majored in mathematics, but loved philosophy and took as many of your father’s classes as I could and crashed as many of his graduate seminars as I could – a practice he turned a blind eye to. He always struck me a ‘Herr Professor’ who might have given his life to philosophy as a secular monk. He often told interesting stories about life in the Netherlands before WW2. I got the impression that he was not entirely comfortable with the lack of respect American students show to professors. I have to say, I agree with him. Why do we adulate sports stars and relegate people like Kockelmans to the margins of society? I have to say that he poured gas on my love of philosophy and met my uninformed dogmatic assertions with the utmost patience while he thoroughly explained to me why I was mistaken. Every question was an opporunity to teach, every challenge was an opportunity to engage another mind. Never once did he ever make me feel I was beneath him – the mark of a true teacher.

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    1. I morn your fathers passing, but celebrate his life. The world is a better place because of people like him. He influenced me for the better.

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      1. Hi Blaine, I’m very happy to hear that my dad was such a positive influence in your life. He was for many people. I’m also very pleased that you enjoyed his teaching style enough to take as many classes as you could with him. That must have made him very happy. Do take care, and have a great day. Thanks for reading the blog. 🙂 -Joseph-

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  12. Can someone tell me more about Joseph Kockleman’s religious history and affiliations? I also believe he was a teacher of Bas Van Fraasen. Can anyone illuminate me on this issue?

    Many thanks

    Phil Sloan Notre Dame Program in History and Philosophy of Science
    sloan.1@nd.edu

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    1. Hi, Phil,

      When I was a child, my family and I attended a Lutheran church in town. When I was 16 or 17 we switched back to the Catholic church. Years later I found out that Dad had been Catholic early in his life, but I thought it too personal a question to ask why he switched. Perhaps someone else who knows would be able to leave more information in these comments. I don’t know who Bas Van Fraasen is, perhaps another reader knows?

      I’m always very happy when hits on Pop’s blog post in the stats because I know that his work and memory go on.

      Hope you have a good day and I invite you to be a steady blog reader if you aren’t already.

      -Joseph-

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      1. Hello, Joey. We have never met. I grew up in Pittsburgh, and your mom, Dorothy, was a very close friend of my mother’s. In answer to your question about your dad’s history with Catholicism, it was my understanding that in his early days he was a member of the Catholic clergy, a priest. Please feel free to reply to me if you see this comment.

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        1. Hello Margery, Oh, my goodness. So nice to have you on board. Thank you for reading this entry and clearing up my question about my dad. I’m probably one of the only people in the world who can say my father the Father. Lol.
          How is your family doing? I have very fond memories of my visits to Pittsburgh and your mom and dad’s house. I can even see your dad’s old Buick LeSabre in my mind.
          I hope you have been enjoying not just this blog entry but others. After next week, Rebecca and I will be ending our nine year run, but I have no plans on shutting the blog down, and we shall add new content from time to time.
          So sorry it took me so long for me to see and reply to this comment.
          With fondness, -Joey-

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  13. I just found your blog. Your father had such an impact on my life, and I try to pass on his legacy to my many doctoral students, particularly, as pointed out in other posts, his honesty,humility, and clarity of expression. In the late 1980s, through classicist Walter Donlan, I found PSU’s Interdisciplinary Program for Research in the Humanities of which your father was the director. I was young, poor, pregnant, but had an obsession with trying to figure out ritual, sport, antiquity. Back then, interdisciplinary work was suspect (and thought about sport, by pregnant doctoral. students even more so looked down upon by serious academe) but your father accepted me into his program, helped me get a great fellowship, and gather a doctoral committee of which he was a member. The committee recommended that I travel to Greece to work first-hand with my research, but now with two children, that was an extravagance. One day Professor. Kockelmans (as I still call him) knocked on my apartment door (in Graduate Circle) and handed me a round-trip plane ticket to Athens. He told me, “no need to repay me; someday when you are a professor, do the same for another”). As I prepared for my first interview (for a tenure track position at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I have been employed for the past 28 years) he told me “I have only one piece of advice: ‘tell the truth.'” When I was offered and accepted the position at Illinois, he advised me the last time I saw him “never become pretentious” and that was some of the best advice I’ve ever received. We corresponded off and on as the years went by. In 1998, knowing nothing of your father’s religious beliefs, I confessed to him that philosophy had led me to something I never imagined: I had become an adult convert to the Catholic Church. He wrote back, “my wife and I too are new Catholics.” We continued to exchange notes at Christmas, but these faded away and it was a year after his death, that I learned of Professor Kockelmans’ passing. I’ve mourned him alone, so its lovely now to find this community– thanks for creating it.

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    1. Hi, Synthia. Thank you for your kind words. I am so pleased that my dad was such a positive part of your life. I always enjoy hearing tales of how my dad helped others and the fact that he purchased you tickets to Greece is truly touching. I’m so glad that you have found this blog and I invite you to keep reading as you have time and interest to. As I say in my blog, take care and have a good day. -Joe-

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  14. I’m sorry I’ve only now found your blog. I just wanted you to know that Joe had a profound impact on my thinking and my life. I took every course I could from him at Penn State, and he co-directed my dissertation. I had many long chats with him, and he was very patient with my slow wit’s grappling with phenomenology. Even now, so many years later, he is the model alive in my mind informing how I should deal with my own graduate students. I mourn his passing.

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    1. Hello, Stephen. Thank you for your comment about Dad. I’m so happy that he had a positive impact on your life. He was a positive influence on many people, as you can see from the other comments here. He was a good husband and father and a brilliant scholar. Again, thanks for the comment and welcome aboard the blog. Feel free to leave comments on any other blog entry you wish to. Take care, -Joseph-

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  15. like other posters, i regret that i didn’t come across these blogs a long time ago. i had Phil and Psych majors at PSU in the late 1960s. took one course your dad taught (Husserl – Crises European Sciences). all grad students but me as i recall. the conversation in class was “heady”, and to be frank, i struggled understanding a lot of it. on more than one occasion after class, i walked with your father from campus (the Williard Building as i recall to College Avenue) asking him questions along the way. i remember his patience and sincerity. that was a long time ago. how many people do we meet over a lifetime that we remember at all! i fondly remember you Dad.

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    1. Hi, John. I am so happy that my father was able to take the time to help you understand his class. When I was going to college, not all teachers had extra time to give to students. I thank you for your kind words. Continue to enjoy the blog and leave a comment whenever you like. Take care, -Joe-

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  16. The fact that many of the posters to the “Remembering my Father” blog first come to it because they do an internet search for your father (often decades after he taught them) is telling of the impact that Professor Kockelmans had on the world. Thank you again for enabling us to gather here to remember/pay tribute to him.

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    1. Hi, Synthia. Thank you very much for the kind words. Although I never took a class from my father, I have heard from a multitude of folks that he taught philosophy in an engaging way and tried to make it easy to understand. I am glad to know that for people who needed extra help, he would take the time, when he had it, to clarify that day’s lesson. I am very happy to have you on board as a steady reader and I hope you will enjoy all upcoming blog entries. Take care and have a good day. -Joe-

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  17. I was an undergraduate student, majoring in Philosophy, at the University of Pittsburgh from 1964-68. I took a course in the history of philosophy from Professor Kockelmans. It was about “Rationalism”, the movement begun by Descartes that was an important stimulus to the European Enlightenment.

    Although I only had the one course with him, Dr. K was one of my all-time favorite professors. I’d like to relate a few anecdotes about his work in the classroom at that time.

    One day, quite a few weeks into the course, Dr. K stumbled on a word. He said, “Montez, montez, … transcend” and went on. I thought that was an odd thing to do and, after the class, I went up to the front of the room where he was, as usual, talking to students who came up after class to ask questions. I took a peek at his lecture notes and saw that they were written in French. I asked him about it and he told me that, although he lectured in English, he liked to write his notes in the language of the philosopher that we were studying. Later he told us that he mastered all of the major European languages, including Ancient Greek and Latin, German, French, and English. There may have been others too. He said that he could pick up a page of Aristotle written in Ancient Greek and read it fluently in any of the other languages, offering $100 to any other man within 100 miles of Pittsburgh who could do that.

    Another time he told us that he liked to study. That he studied about 12 hours a day (if I remember correctly) since he was five years old. It was just what he liked to do. Again if I remember correctly, he told us that he had a PhD in Physics as well as in philosophy.

    Perhaps these stories make it sound like Dr. K was a boastful or arrogant man. But he absolutely was not. I think he was proud of his accomplishments, but in a peculiarly modest way. He was always sympathetic and approachable to his students and was loved by all of them.

    He said that, as a student in Europe, he and his friends would go to the cafes to drink wine. They all agreed that they were drinking the wine of truth, “in vino veritas”, and not the wine of “in vino luxorum”, but I had the impression that he was not above having a taste of luxorum in his life.

    I finished my four years at Pittsburgh and went on to study Philosophy for five more years at the University of Illinois. I met many very fine and supremely intelligent professors at both schools, but Dr. K has a special place in my memories.

    Thank you for posting this memorial to your father and for allowing us, his students, a chance to add our own appreciations of this fine and wonderfully intelligent man.

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    1. Hi, Alan. I am humbled by your kind words about my father. Pop, as I called him, was always upstairs in his office either writing a book, preparing a lecture, or studying. That is not to say that he didn’t make time for his family. He was a fantastic father and a good husband to my mom.
      I never took any classes at Penn State with Pop, and now I regret not doing so. If I could hit that reset button and go back to my mid-20s, I think I would at least sit in on one.
      One time in a closet I found a reel to reel tape recorder. It contained a lecture in English of one of his courses, either from one of his early days at Penn State or even from Pittsburgh. I enjoyed listening to that. I suppose he heard me listening to it and didn’t want me “monkeying with his machine,” because when I went back to listen some more the next day it was gone. Too bad.
      Again, most sincere thanks for your kind words. Do keep in touch and happy reading. -Joe-

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  18. [From Joe: Phillip Sloan made this comment in the blog entry Technology … Grrr2. Since it is related to Pop and all of you who comment about him do so in the blog entry Remembering my Father, —, I decided to copy and paste the comment here so more people would see it and possibly respond to him. Thanks.]

    “Can someone tell me about the impact of Joseph Kockelmans on Bas Van Fraasen. I believe Bas studied with him and I am interested in some of the connections between Kockelmans’s phenomenological account of the philosophy of science and the approach developed by Van Fraasen.

    Sincerely

    Phillip Sloan Program in History and Philosophy of Science University of Notre Dame >”

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  19. Dear Joe (if I may),

    As you may know, your father was a Director of the Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology (CARP). We have created a page on the CARP website with brief memorials for several of our past Directors, including your father.

    As you will see, I included one of the images of your father from your gallery. I hope that you won’t mind, but I wanted to be sure that we have your permission to use this. You can view the page here:

    http://phenomenology-carp.org/about-carp/board-of-directors/in-memoriam-former-carp-directors/

    Best wishes,
    Ted Toadvine

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    1. Dear Ted, I am very pleased and proud that you have added my father to this wonderful list, and of course you have my permission to use the photo. I am very proud that he still impacts people’s lives today. Please continue to keep in contact if you wish, and have a great day. Thanks again, -Joe-

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  20. Thank you for this post about your father. I was thinking about him today as I start work on a post I am developing on critical thinking. I had the pleasure of taking two philosophy courses with Dr Kockelmans in the early 1980s. He was a wonderful teacher and a great, great thinker. I consider him the most intelligent person I ever met, and a kind, pleasant and engaging person to boot.

    The first class I took with him was a broad philosophy course where he did a good job of teaching to the undergrads in his class who did not have much of a background in philosophy. He was patient and helpful, even though I’m sure his time could have been better spent than with the lot of us!

    The second class was Phenomenology, which was right in his wheelhouse. It was wonderful being challenged at an advanced level. After a couple weeks in the class, two of my friends and I realized that we were the only undergrads in the class. Your father was gracious and accepting, and let us know that he appreciated our desire to learn at an advanced level. I count this class as one of the most powerful experiences in my years at Penn State.

    I never got the chance to meet up with Dr. Kockelmans to thank him after I graduated and came to deeply appreciate his teaching. I hope in some small way this comment may serve as that belated thank you. And thank you for sharing this remembrance of him.

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    1. Hi, Chuck. Thank you for sharing with me your memories of your experiences with my father. I continue to be overwhelmed and grateful for all the warm words and memories from Pop’s former students. He was a wonderful teacher and father. I remember him always as being kind, and in my early years, Pop was always there to help me with my homework.
      I’m very glad that you enjoyed your two courses with him and got so much out of them. It reaffirms my knowledge of him that he treated you and the other undergraduates in his advanced class so well.
      I invite you to continue reading and do comment whenever you like to. Take care and have a great day, -Joe-

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  21. I am just now stumbling upon this site in 2017. I am very thankful to learn more about this man’s life and about his final years. I took several classes with Professor Kockelmans at Penn State in the 1990’s both as an undergraduate and graduate right up to his retirement. He was the most influential teacher I ever had and made a very deep impression upon me with his profound knowledge of philosophy and religion. I was not raised a Christian, but under Kockelman’s influence I became fascinated with and awakened to Christianity. Kockelmans was very passionate and giving towards all his students and colleagues. He motivated me and inspired my love of learning. I recall a story he told me about when he was just a lad of only a few years old and he etched into a piece of wood his burning desire that he wanted simply “to know”. And he was very knowledgeable about many, many subjects. He also knew manifold languages both ancient and modern. He loved music, especially Bach. I cannot say enough about how much this man inspired me. Thank you! And God bless you!

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    1. Hello, Jonathan. Thank you for your very kind words about my Dad. Although I never took a class with him during my years at Penn State, I now wish I had. I’ve heard from many of his former students what a great teacher and man he was in the classroom. He was certainly a wonderful father. He was dedicated to family and especially loved the holidays.
      I invite you to look up any of the related blog entry suggestions at the bottom of the Remembering my father post.
      Again, thank you for your kind words, -Joseph-

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  22. Thanks again Joseph M. Kockelmans. I navigated more of the site, read through all the comments, and happily remember your father again from the pictures you posted. Once I took my first class with your father, I tried to sign up for every class he offered. I used to tape all his lectures, oftentimes sitting right next to him, but unfortunately my family, not Christian, confiscated all these tapes. I remember exactly the most important things he ever told me including his last words to me. They resonate in my mind. I still have a few letters from him. I always wanted to follow in your father’s footsteps, and considered entering a monastery, even though I always understood that he was definitely Protestant. That is why I was surprised to read some of the comments above. Anyway, I had to overcome many, many, circumstances and know I will never attain to his genius and piety. However, he is the best role model I ever had in the flesh, and my memory of him and his words perpetually inspire me.

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    1. Professor Kockelmans was my teacher in two seminars at the University of Pittsburgh when I was a graduate student there: one on Husserl (focus on Husserl;’s Cartesian Meditations) and one on the philosophy of quantum mechanics.

      But he was more than a teacher, I can say that I knew him personally. I had already read his book on phenomenology and physical science in Dutch (as well as some of his other Dutch books) when I was an undergraduate, and felt amazingly lucky to then have its author as a teacher.

      Much later, in his Presidential Address to the APA he posed a challenge for me. He said in that lecture that I had described what an empiricist thinks an empirical scientist is, but had not looked critically into what it is to be an empiricist. Part of my book The Empirical Stance was a response to this challenge.

      I am glad to have this opportunity to acknowledge my debt and gratitude to this teacher who inspired me in many ways

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, Bas Van Fraassen. I’m so happy that you were able to enjoy your classes with my father. I never had the honor of being a student in his class, but I know he was amazing. He enriched so many people’s lives.
        I invite you to continue being a reader of mine. I’m quite certain that I will have other blog entries about my dad.
        Take care, and have a good day. -Joseph-

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  23. I read your father’s book A First Introduction to Husserl’s Phenomenology during the summer of 1968. It was one of the very first books in philosophy I actually read cover to cover. I have begun reading it anew on the occasion of nostalgic reflection, as I approach my seventieth year. It is a book that refreshes my youthful enthusiasm for a subject which for me, at least, has made life worth living.

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    1. Hi, Steven. I’m so glad that you’re enjoying my father’s book for the second time. My dad always had a knack for making the subject interesting and, although I never took a class from him myself, everyone I’ve spoken to said he was an excellent teacher. Please continue to be inspired. Take care, -Joe-

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  24. Your father was a colleague of my mother’s, Dr. Wilma Stern at Penn State. I was a dual admission Penn State student for high school and college credit. I took Philosophy of Religion with your father when I was 18. I enjoyed the class very much and was so happy he was still teaching in 1988 so I could take it.

    I just used him and several other members of the philosophy department at Penn State in that era as examples of why the department was so strong in that era. He was a great professor.

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    1. Hi, Jessica. Thank you so much for the kind words about my Dad. Philosophy of Religion was one of his favorite classes to teach, along with Philosophy of Martin Heidegger. I wished I had taken a class taught by my Dad, but philosophy was just a wee bit over my head. Glad you enjoyed it and please feel free to comment on any other blog entry of mine that you happen to read. Take care and have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Hello Joseph,

    I had the honor of studying with your father at Penn State while earning my Ph.D. in philosophy. He taught me a great deal and was one of the reasons I chose to attend Penn State.

    I remember every day in his Heidegger Seminar he would come in with a massive three ringed notebook which was many-times revised and expanded version of his book on Being and Time. He would set it on the desk, open it, place his finger on the spot where we had left off the previous class and say “We begin.” And we were off!

    Since I went on to be a professional philosopher myself and a Heidegger specialist, I ended up reading his books as well, and learned even more from he than he taught me in person—but I was always fortunate in reading his books, because I could always hear his voice in my mind and had the sense of knowing how he thought that one only gets from a beloved and respected teacher.

    I was glad to find this memorial to him. He also lives on in the influence he had on so many of his students, like me, and indirectly on our students. By now, 50 or so semesters of students have listened to me quote him on this or that point!

    Best to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Eve. Thank you so much for writing in. Your note touched me. I’m always happy to hear when former students share with me their remembrances of my Dad. I am happy also to hear that his work lives on through you and that you continue to read his books. I take it you teach Heideggerian philosophy? What do your students think of my Dad’s points of view? I would be interested to know.
      I am certain you are a wonderful teacher and I would very much like to keep in contact with you and have you keep me up to date on your student’s thoughts about philosophy.
      Here’s wishing you a great day and chime in anytime.
      -Joseph-

      Like

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