In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Baruch Brody
Department of Philosophy, 1975-2018
Professor Brody arrived at Rice in 1975 as department chair. He quickly transformed the department into the outstanding department that we have today. In 1982, he moved half-time to Baylor College of Medicine, where he was founding director of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy.
Professor Brody was a prolific and influential scholar, a wise and helpful colleague, and devoted teacher. We miss him greatly.
Please leave your tributes to Professor Brody by choosing the tributes button on the left-side menu. You may also see his obituary on the Rice University Department of Philosophy page by choosing obituary on the left-side menu.
Wake Forest UniversityWhen the news of Dr. Brody’s passing arrived, I immediately thought of the many times I rely on his written work as well as his manner or style of teaching. Every semester, both my undergraduate and graduate students not only read some of his work but they hear certain lines repeated almost verbatim from a course I took with him over 20 years ago at Rice. He had a powerful and clear way of communicating, and an extremely insightful way of asking questions so that we would learn to assess and make arguments. I will be forever grateful that so many of his colleagues and former students had the opportunity to honor him in life in Pluralistic Casuistry.
I distinctly remember Dr. Brody talking about parenting teenagers. At the time, being the parent of a teenager seemed like an impossibility. I was in my early 20s. Yet, over the years, I have recalled many of this stories and applied some of his advice. I admired his mind, his teaching style, and especially his commitment to his family and to his faith.
Sherry Ya-Yun Kao
Rice UniversityI am extremely lucky to have Baruch as my advisor. He was extremely good at ideas, always asking penetrating questions, and was always challenging and supportive at the same time. I had always been excited about meeting with him each time because I knew I can have a significant breakthrough and enjoy the process of running ideas by him. The kind of intellectual stimulation will be deeply missed. He always encouraged me to come up with all kinds of ideas and worked closely with me to see whether and how those ideas work out. At the same time, he taught me to enjoy life as well—he asked me not to work too hard, reminding me to relax and have fun in life. He is the most extraordinary person I know of. He was extremely smart yet he could utilize his intelligence to help people without making them feel embarrassed.
American University of Beirut Medical CenterAlthough I have not met Prof. Brody personally, I cannot [help] but share the fact that reading his thoughts and following up on his intellectual discussion [and the] connection to ethics and bioethics left an impact on my reasoning as I was working on my PhD. A true loss. May his soul rest in peace.
Rice Philosophy Department
I first became familiar with "Baruch Brody" fromthe cover of the MIT edition of Thomas Reid's Enquiry, which Baruch edited and which I studied as an MA student at Northern Illinois University. It would be several more years before I learned who Baruch Brody was -- not an obscure editor of obscure eighteenth century British philosophers but an internationally renowned philosopher whose expertise covered, apparently, everything: history of philosophy, metaphysics, ethics, applied ethics,philosophy of religion, and much more. Baruch was now my colleague! Since the day I arrived on campus in 1983, Baruch was unfailingly friendly and supportive. I came to appreciate so many things about him -- the depth and clarity of his mind, his composure under fire, the elegance of his teaching, and, not least, his brilliance as an administrator both at the university and at the department level. I've never known a person better able to de-fuse tense situations, see clear paths toward solutions of seemingly intractable problems, and exercise the kind of judgment that respected the feelings of everyone involved -- to name just a few of the qualities that made our department thrive during his many years at Rice. Though I work in an area of philosophy far removed from Baruch's interests, he was always extremely supportive of that work, a kind of support for which I will be ever grateful. The department has lost its founder and one of its steadiest hands. But he imbued our workspace with his spirit, and so I have confidence for the future. And while I mourn the loss of a good friend, I celebrate his astonishing legacy.
Thank you for teaching me professionalism & how to mentor, traits I very much value in my work with the hospital—nowadays most especially.
Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine
As others have noted, Baruch was indispensable to Rice’s Department of Philosophy and Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy. I owe him a particularly great debt of gratitude due to the role that both of these institutions have played in my intellectual development. But it is not only the institutions that he helped to build, but also the individual himself, that has left a lasting influence on me. I had the privilege of serving as one of Baruch’s teaching assistants for the four years leading up to his retirement, a time at which his characteristic reflectiveness about effective and meaningful teaching was perhaps on greatest display. I will always remember the deep sense of fulfillment he expressed following his final lecture of a fifty-year teaching career. As a partner in philosophical dialectic, Baruch was uncompromising in his commitment to the examination of everything from basic principles to whole worldviews. In keeping with the rich philosophical traditions of which he is a part, Baruch displayed a powerful and unabashed love for truth. In mourning Baruch’s passing, we also celebrate his triumphant and impactful life. His lasting institutional legacy and his towering personal example will not be forgotten.
University of Michigan
When I was a young doctor in training, Baruch came to Pittsburgh and presented is work about tPA and streptokinase. Besides making this young doc thing, "Wow, he really knows his clinical facts," he helped inspire my passion for empirical research in bioethics about issues related to cost, access, and value.
A great mind and a warm human being.
Baruch Brody was a kind and helpful colleague for thirty years. His kindness began while I was considering an offer from Rice. My wife came to Houston for other reasons, and Baruch met with her and talked with her about living in Houston. She still remembers that conversation vividly.
Baruch was a gifted conciliator, able to locate the common ground in even the most contentious of department meetings. He was also a master tactician in dealings with administrators and institutional structures. On institutional matters, Baruch combined both wisdom and street smarts.
Baruch was a devoted teacher. He was concerned about pedagogy: for a decade he ran a series of workshops for the American Philosophy Association on teaching philosophy. He loved his students, and wanted them to become excellent physicians and professors.
Baruch always impressed me--and the rest of the department--with his intellectual range. He wrote or edited textbooks on the Philosophy of Science, Logic, the Philosophy of Religion, a general intro to Philosophy textbook, an intro text on Ethics in general, and a much-used text on Social and Political Philosophy, again in general. He made important and enduring contribution in metaphysics, political philosophy, ethics, and other branches of philosophy. A personal anecdote. In 1972 Baruch published an article on Aristotle’s philosophy of science. He was not a specialist in Aristotle. Yet in the last several years I have seen that article cited by specialist scholars several times—45 years later!
He was a friend, mentor, and a giant in the field. He lives on in people he helped, mentored, and befriended. He enriched and inspired us.