World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Dewi Zephaniah Phillips

Dewi Zephaniah Phillips
Dewi Phillips late in life
Born 24 November 1934
Swansea, Wales, UK
Died 25 July 2006(2006-07-25) (aged 71)
Swansea, Wales, UK
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Analytic philosophy, Moral philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of religion, ethics, Philosophy of literature
Notable ideas
A new role for the philosophy of religion: not in uniting theology and philosophy, but in recognising and analysing their different functions

Dewi Zephaniah Phillips (24 November 1934 – 25 July 2006), known as D. Z. Phillips, Dewi Z, or simply DZ, was a leading proponent of Wittgensteinian philosophy of religion. He had an academic career spanning five decades, and at the time of his death he held the Danforth Chair in Philosophy of religion at Claremont Graduate University, California, and was Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Swansea University.


  • Biography 1
  • Published works 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Dewi Zephaniah Phillips was born in South Wales, in Britain, on 24 November 1934, at Swansea. He was the youngest son of David and Alice Phillips, and one of three brothers. (He was predeceased by the Reverend Cadfan Phillips and Keri Phillips.) He attended the Bishop Gore School, Swansea, and studied at Swansea University (1952–58) and the University of Oxford (St Catherine's Society) (1958–61).

From 1959 until 1961 he was Minister of Fabian Bay Congregational Church, Swansea. In 1959 he married Margaret Monica Hanford. They would have three sons, Aled, Steffan and Rhys – and four grandchildren, Ceri, Bethan, Sian and Emyr.

Phillips began his academic career at Queen's College, Dundee, in 1961, before joining the University College of North Wales, Bangor, in 1963.

In 1965 he returned to Swansea University, to take up a lectureship in the Department of Philosophy. Promoted to a senior lectureship in 1967, he became professor and head of department in 1971. He also served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts (1982–1985) and as a Vice-Principal (1989–1992).

In 1993 he was appointed Danforth Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the Claremont Graduate University in California, and thereafter divided his time between Claremont and Swansea where, in 1996, he became the Rush Rhees Professor Emeritus and Director of the Rush Rhees Archives and Peter Winch Archives based in Swansea University. He held both positions until his death in 2006.

Professor Phillips gave many endowed lectures during his tenure at California's Claremont Graduate University. These included the Cardinal Mercier Lectures (Leuven), Marett Lecture (Oxford), Riddell Lectures (Newcastle), McMartin Lectures (Carleton University, in Ottawa), Hintz Lecture (Tucson), the Aquinas Lecture (Oxford), and Vonhoff Lectures (Groningen).

His teachers at Swansea – J. R. Jones, R. F. Holland, Peter Winch, Frank Ramsey, and, most importantly, Rush Rhees inspired an untiring devotion to philosophy. His research interests included the philosophy of religion, ethics, philosophy and literature, Simone Weil, Søren Kierkegaard, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. He contributed much to Swansea University's reputation as a centre of Wittgenstein's philosophy. Indeed, Phillips's distinctive contribution to philosophy, and a handful of other philosophers associated with Swansea, is recognised among professional philosophers as "the Swansea school" of philosophy.

The Swansea school of thought is, perhaps, most thoroughly articulated as a positive research program in Phillips' own book on the subject, "Philosophy's Cool Place" (1999), in which he argues for the merits of "contemplative philosophy." On this view, philosophy is an activity involving both inquiries about reality and elucidations of the various contexts in which people live and speak. In contrast to the New Wittgenstein school of thought, philosophy is not limited to purely "therapeutic" treatments and the removing of philosophical confusion. Here, Phillips is primarily indebted to the work of Rush Rhees. For Phillips, what gives philosophy its unique disciplinary feature is its primary concern with the question of the nature of reality: "How can philosophy give an account of reality which shows that it is necessary to go beyond simply noting differences between various modes of discourse, without invoking a common measure of 'the real' or assuming that all modes of discourse have a common subject, namely, Reality?"[1]

Outside philosophy and academia, his commitment to the language and culture of Wales was clear. He was instrumental in the founding of the Taliesin Arts Centre on the university campus in Swansea, and promoted the use of the Welsh language in local schools. He was honoured by membership of the Gorsedd Circle of the National Eisteddfod.

Phillips died of a heart attack in Swansea University Library, on 25 July 2006. He was 71.

Published works

D. Z. Phillips was perhaps best known for his publications in the philosophy of religion, but he has also published articles in ethics, philosophy and literature, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Welsh language publications in Welsh literature. He was editor of the journal Philosophical Investigations (Blackwells) and the Swansea Series in Philosophy (Palgrave), as well as the Claremont Studies in the Philosophy of Religion and Wittgensteinian Studies series. Selected publications:

  • Athronyddu Am Grefydd (Philosophising About Religion)
  • Belief, Change and Forms of Life
  • Concept of Prayer, The
  • Death and Immortality
  • Dramâu Gwenlyn Parry
  • Faith after Foundationalism
  • Faith and Philosophical Enquiry
  • From Fantasy to Faith
  • Interventions in Ethics,London: Blackwell, 1992
  • Introducing Philosophy: The Challenge of Scepticism
  • Kant and Kierkegaard on Religion (co-edited with Timothy Tessin)
  • Moral Practices (with H O Mounce)
  • Philosophy's Cool Place
  • Problem of Evil and the Problem of God (2005)
  • Recovering Religious Concepts
  • Religion and Friendly Fire
  • Religion and Hume's Legacy (co-edited with Timothy Tessin)
  • Religion and the Hermeneutics of Contemplation
  • Religion without Explanation
  • R.S. Thomas: Poet of the Hidden God
  • Sense and Delusion (with Ilham Dilman)
  • Through a Darkening Glass, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1982
  • Wittgenstein and Religion
  • Wittgensteinian Fideism? (Co-written with Kai Nielsen)


  1. ^ Philosophy's Cool Place (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), 11.

External links

  • , 21 August 2006The GuardianObituary in
  • , 9 August 2006The IndependentObituary in
  • , 18 August 2006The TimesObituary in
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.