In Memoriam: Warren Hockenos

In Memoriam: Warren Hockenos

12/14/2010

Warren J. Hockenos, a longtime member of Skidmore's Philosophy Department, died December 13, 2010, at his home, from complications of Parkinson's disease. His Skidmore connections were broad and deep. Warren taught at the College for 30 years, and was the father of two alumni (sons Paul '85 and Timothy '89) and the father of a current faculty member (son Matthew, associate professor of history). In addition, Warren was the husband of Anne Crookall Hockenos, who worked in the College's Admissions and Communications offices, most recently as associate editor of Scope magazine before her 2001 retirement.

Born December 16, 1930, in Rochester, N.Y., Warren spent a year at Oblates of Mary Immaculate seminary in Newburgh, and completed his undergraduate education at Hobart College. In the midst of graduate studies at Boston University he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as an intelligence clerk in West Germany from 1954 to 1956. He later received a Ph.D. degree in philosophy from B.U.

In 1960 Warren married Anne Crookall and in 1962 began his teaching career at Skidmore, where he worked until retiring as an associate professor in 1992. His 30 years of teaching were particularly notable for the range of his philosophical interests. He taught many of the philosophy courses that employed an analytic approach, such as "Philosophy of Language," "Symbolic Logic," and "Philosophy of Science." He also taught courses in the history of philosophy, including seminars on Hegel employing a dialectical approach.

Warren researched extensively such varied topics as philosophical arguments, the meaning of color words, the expression theory of art, Georg Lukacs's theory of rationality, and the computer modeling of minds. His work led to study in Greece in 1969-70 and in Germany in 1977; in 1979, he was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend.

The Albany Times Union interviewed Warren in 1990 for a story on philosophers and their work. Warren told the reporter, "Doing philosophy is a kind of practical enterprise. It's not just theory, but what it would be like to put this theory into practice. The philosopher's job is to provide alternative visions so people can achieve self-understanding. It's important that students have insight into what they've learned, so to speak, at their mothers' knees. Our job is to liberate them from these notions and get them to think."

According to the story, Spinoza was one of Warren's philosophical heroes. "He opens a whole new world. He rejects the anthropomorphic God, and provides you with a God that is a manifestation of nature. He tells us not to be confined by what we are," Warren said.

Professor emeritus of English Ralph Ciancio, a longtime friend and colleague of Warren, recalled, "Warren was marvelously of a piece, a professor who lived by the ideas he professed, a superior teacher who kept a keen and wary eye on what was au courant in higher education, an active contributor to faculty governance--in all, a very special colleague and model of integrity."

During retirement Warren continued to read with great enthusiasm in the areas of philosophy and economics and relished lively discussions with friends and former colleagues. He was a political progressive who actively supported movements that promoted social justice, racial equality, the environment, and nonviolence. In 1997, he went to Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a monitor in Bosnia's first postwar elections.

Warren's survivors include Anne and their children: Paul (Jenni Winterhagen) of Berlin, Germany, Timothy (Ilene Oba) of San Francisco, and Matthew (Alexandra Chang) of Round Lake; grandsons Oscar Hockenos-Chang and Johan Winterhagen-Hockenos; several cousins; and sister-in-law Mary Crookall Hudson.

Tags: Memoriam, Faculty, Philosophy
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