Marjorie Glicksman Grene (December 13, 1910, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – March 16, 2009, Blacksburg, Virginia) was an American philosopher. She wrote both on existentialism and the philosophy of science, especially the philosophy of biology. She taught at the University of California at Davis from 1965 to 1978. From 1988 until her death she was Honorary University Distinguished Professor of philosophy at Virginia Tech.

Life and career

Her first degree was in zoology, from Wellesley College; she then received a doctorate in philosophy from Radcliffe College.[1]

She studied with Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers, leaving Germany in 1933. She was in Denmark in 1935, and then at the University of Chicago. After losing her position there during World War II, she spent 15 years as a mother and farmer.[2] She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1976.[3]

Her obituary in The New York Times said she was "one of the first philosophers to raise questions about the synthetic theory of evolution, which combines Darwin's theory of evolution, Mendel's understanding of genetic inheritance and more recent discoveries by molecular biologists." She, along with co-author David Depew, wrote the first history of the philosophy of biology. In 2002 she was the first female philosopher to have a volume of the Library of Living Philosophers devoted to her.[4]

In 1995 the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology established a prize for young scholars in her name. The Society said her name was chosen because "not only does her work in the history and philosophy of biology exemplify the strong spirit of interdisciplinary work fundamental to (the Society), but she played a central role in bringing together diverse scholars of biology even before the formation of the Society."[5]


From 1938 to 1961, she was married to David Grene, a classicist who also farmed in Illinois and in his native Ireland. She and David had two children,[2] Ruth Grene, a professor of plant physiology at Virginia Tech, and Nicholas Grene, Professor of English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin.


See also


  1. ^ "Marjorie Grene dies at 98; historian of philosophy known as independent thinker - Los Angeles Times". 2009-03-28. Archived from the original on 2009-03-28. Retrieved 2020-08-10.
  2. ^ a b Marjorie Grene dies at 98; historian of philosophy known as independent thinker | LA Times March 22, 2009
  3. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter G" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  4. ^ Marjorie Grene, a Leading Philosopher of Biology, Is Dead at 98 | New York Times, March 28, 2009
  5. ^ ISHPSSB prize page

Further reading