Topic: Dr. Thomas Oberdan (Clemson Professor)
Replies: 11   Last Post: Mar 21, 2018 9:46 PM by: Judge Keller®
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Dr. Thomas Oberdan (Clemson Professor)

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 6:01 PM

Just got word from his daughter (who went to Clemson) this morning that he passed away on Sunday. He was the first professor I had at Clemson, and ended up being sort of a mentor for me. He taught philosophy, particularly introduction to symbolic logic, but also a few philosophy of science courses. Later on, he taught Science and Technology in Society.

Those of you who took his classes probably knew him as a quirky guy who always a good (and sometimes off-color) joke to tell in class, and who went by "Dr. O." But he was one of those professors who was willing to walk and talk with you for thirty minutes about something that came up in class, and who would meet with students for lunch to talk about whatever was on their minds. Even though I ended up studying a different area of philosophy, he was the one who inspired me to keep reading philosophy and other intellectual works on my own, which eventually led me to study political theory at U of Chicago.

Because he was so well loved by his students, his daughter felt she should make sure to let us all know what happened. I would imagine Dr. O would appreciate that legacy.

Here's what the College of Art, Architecture, and Humanities sent out yesterday:

CAAH colleagues,

It is with great sadness that we share news that Dr. Thomas J. Oberdan passed away peacefully over the weekend.

His daughter Angelina Oberdan was a lecturer in the English department before taking a job in North Carolina.
She has shared details with us on the ceremony that will be held in his honor on Wednesday:

Thomas J. Oberdan, 68, of Seneca, S.C., died March 18, 2018. He was an associate professor emeritus in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, who retired in 2017 with 27 years of service to Clemson University.

He is survived by a daughter, family and friends.

A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21 in the Xeriscape garden at the Clemson University Botanical Gardens.

At Clemson, students in his science, technology and society classes knew him best as “Dr. O.”

Dr. Oberdan earned a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Missouri at St. Louis before earning an M.A. in philosophy, and also an M.A. and Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science from Indiana University Bloomington.

He first came to Clemson in 1990, as a visiting assistant professor teaching business ethics, introductory logic and philosophy of science.

Dr. Oberdan wrote the book, “Science, Technology and the Texture of Our Lives” and numerous academic articles about the intersections between philosophy and science, technology and humanity, and the nature of scientific truth.

In 2015, the National Science Foundation granted Oberdan a Scholars Award of $128,000 to pursue a research project on the origins of scientific philosophy involving the “Schlick Zirkel,” a group of mathematicians, physicists and philosophers that formed around physicist-turned-philosopher Moritz Schlick.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Safe Harbor, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping local victims of domestic violence: http://safeharborsc.org/donate-now/

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darn! Dr. O was great.

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 6:34 PM

As you said, he was always good for an off-color joke and had my sense of humor. He used to stroll into class late after getting that last drag from his cigarette. I got to talk to him a few times after class and really enjoyed those conversations.

Re: Dr. Thomas Oberdan (Clemson Professor)

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 6:43 PM

I took a Symbolic Logic philophy class as a freshman in 1989. I wonder if Dr. Oberdan was my professor?

Re: Dr. Thomas Oberdan (Clemson Professor)

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 6:49 PM

The philosophy class I took in college was my time to catch up on my sleep. Unfortunately, I did not have a Dr. O. Sounds like a classy guy.

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No, because he didn't get there until 1990***

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 7:36 PM

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RIP, Great guy

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 7:12 PM

I had his daughter for class twice, and got to meet him a couple times. Great family

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^^^ this makes me feel old***

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 7:36 PM

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Re: Dr. Thomas Oberdan (Clemson Professor)

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 7:23 PM


Re: Had him in either 00 or 01...

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 9:04 PM

If I recall, every class, at some point each student had to put a word on the blackboard to get a topic started. You couldn't be shy or timid in his class, as he would basically call everyone out at some point to get their viewpoint on various topics, but he was a very good professor.

Re: Dr. Thomas Oberdan (Clemson Professor)

Posted: Mar 21, 2018 6:24 PM

Sad to hear. He wrote a letter of recommendation for me. Great guy with a mischievous sense of humor.!

Re: Dr. Thomas Oberdan (Clemson Professor)

Posted: Mar 21, 2018 9:28 PM

Never had him myself, but knew the name by his excellent reputation as a professor.

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I am sad to hear this news. He was one of my favorite professors.

Posted: Mar 21, 2018 9:46 PM

I took his Intro to Logic class as well as his Philosophy of Science class, and enjoyed them both. He was intelligent, funny, and incredibly generous with his time outside of class. I remember chatting with him numerous times outside of class, as he could frequently be found smoking a cigarette outside of Hardin Hall.

Do we know if he had been in poor health, or if is death was expected at all?

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Replies: 11  


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