G.E.M Anscombe Philosophy Page

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  • Topic: Analytic philosophy, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gottlob Frege
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Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe

G.E.M Anscombe, also known as Elizabeth, was the British philosopher who was born on the 18th march 1919 in Limerick, Ireland, she passed away a year after the millennium on 5th January 2001.

G.E.M went to the Sydenham School and then graduated in 1937 to go onto St. Hugh’s College in Oxford. Her further graduation from there in 1941 achieved her a first in Classics and Philosophy. Later, upon moving to Cambridge she then met Ludwig Wittgenstein, she became a devoted student of his. Anscombe went back and forth from Oxford back to Cambridge to translate and edit his books and things that he had drawn up in his writings. When Wittgenstein died in 1951, Elizabeth was said to be “…one of Wittgenstein's closest friends and one of his most trusted students, an exception to his general dislike of academic women and especially of female philosophers. She became, in fact, an honorary male, addressed by him affectionately as ‘old man’.” (Monk 1991, 498). By now she was one of Britain’s analytical philosophers, and she was heading up the ranks.

In 1941, she met a fellow philosopher Peter Geach as they were both getting instructions from a Dominican priest. They later married and had 7 children, 3 sons and 4 daughters.

In 1956 she opposed Oxfords decision to award Harry Truman the honorary degree; she felt that he was a mass murderer when he decided to use the atom bomb against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. She also closed controversy with her peer group by publicizing against contraception.

Anscombe wrote a particularly notorious article in 1958 that brought in the term consequentialism which was added into the analytic philosophical language. Her most influential monograph ‘Intention’ (1957) is seen upon as her greatest piece; she gathered her conceptions of action, intention and practical reasoning and took them from this piece of work. She used an aggressive, direct and argumentative approach towards...
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