Obituary of Roger Squires | Philosophy

My husband, Roger Squires, who died at the age of 81, was an academic philosopher who studied and taught at the University of St Andrews for over 35 years.

Roger, the son of Minnie (née Deeming) and Frank Squiresnewsagents, was born and raised in the small mining village of Polesworth, Warwickshire and Nuneaton, where he attended high school. In 1958, an exhibition took him to Oxford University, where he obtained a first in philosophy, politics and economics, and where we met. We married in 1962, just after Roger returned from a year studying at Brown University in Rhode Island. He then took a BPhil at Oxford with the philosopher Gilbert Ryle.

In 1964 Roger became a lecturer in the Department of Logic and Metaphysics at St Andrews University. He was quickly promoted to lecturer. His main interest lay in the philosophy of mind, influenced by Ryle and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and he published a succession of articles in the main British philosophical journals. He spent several years editing the journal Philosophical Quarterly.

Roger adhered to the precepts of ordinary language philosophy, which views traditional philosophical problems as rooted in linguistic misunderstandings caused by technical vocabulary that distorts or ignores the meaning of words in ordinary usage. Roger assiduously analyzed Wittgenstein’s writings, especially on issues such as memory and dreaming – the latter subject was particularly interesting. However, he preferred teaching to research and he enjoyed supervising many students for their doctorates, always generous with his time. He retired from St Andrews in 2000.

In retirement, Roger continued his special interest in the puzzling nature of the dream experience, culminating in a book completed shortly before his death, Nightmariners and Wideawakes: The Philosophy of Dreaming, soon to be published by Anthem Press.

Outside of work, Roger was an enthusiastic hiker. Together we climbed all the Munros, Corbetts, Grahams and Donalds and all but five of St Kilda’s five sea-stacks of the 1,557 ‘Marilyns’ (hills in the UK with a 150m drop separating them from the rest). We climbed the Munro A’Mhaighdean in 2019.

Although Roger broke an arm and a hip in April 2020 and caught Covid-19 in hospital, he recovered enough to reassemble all but one of his local Marilyns that summer. He also enjoyed bird watching over St Andrews Bay from our house and listening to live bands from Fife.

He is survived by our daughter, Jean, four grandchildren and me.