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Robert Cumming, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Dies at 87


Robert D. Cumming

Robert D. Cumming, Frederick J. E. Woodbridge Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, died on Aug. 25 at his home in Morningside Heights. He was 87. Cumming spent 37 years at Columbia before retiring in 1985, having joined the faculty as an instructor in 1948.

Cumming was noted for his work on phenomenology, the study of how perceptions of events shape a person's reality. Among his books is a four-volume work on phenomenology: Phenomenology and Deconstruction: The Dream Is Over (1991); Method and Imagination (1992); Breakdown in Communication (2002); and Solitude (2001). The books discuss the work of philosophers Husserl, Sartre, Heidegger and others.

Born on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia , Cumming graduated from Harvard in 1938 and went on to study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He served as a member of the Free French Army and participated in the liberation of Paris, earning the French Croix de Guerre for bravery and the Legion of Merit. Cumming received his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1950.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Jeanne Hannan Cumming; a daughter, Ann; a sister, Isabel Seimer; and a grandson.

Published: Oct 13, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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