Alfons Grieder obituary

Other lives: Swiss-born philosophy lecturer who spent many years teaching at London University

My friend Alfons Grieder, who has died aged 86, was a philosophy lecturer and visiting professor at the University of London from 1967 until 2005.

Born in the village of Wenslingen in Baselland in Switzerland, where his father, Traugott, and mother, Amalie (nee Buess), ran a farm, Alfons went to Schiers school in the Kanton of Graubunden. There he displayed an aptitude for studying, especially maths and physics.

In 1955, after completing teacher training, he taught maths, first at a school in Basel county and then at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (1962-63). While he was there he graduated with a degree in physics, then did postgraduate research in physics at the University of Zurich (1964-65), after which he attended the Janggen-Pöhn Foundation in St Gallen, which helped exceptional postgraduate students to pursue further academic training – in his case to switch from physics to philosophy.

He moved to Britain in 1966 to study for a doctorate at Bristol University, where he met and married a fellow student, Linda Liebold, in 1967. Thereafter he was a philosophy lecturer at the University of London (1967-81), rising to senior lecturer (1981-89), head of division (1989-2000) and visiting professor (2001-2005), after which he retired.

Alfons was always greatly interested in the lives of others, especially young people. Unlike many, even those who have a deep understanding of lots of subjects, he was happy to embrace people whose views differed from his own. He was wonderfully perceptive, and across decades of friendship I never knew him to be wrong about anything or anyone.

He is survived by Linda, their children, Peter, Tom and Esther, grandchildren, Anastasia, Sofia, Sylvie and Elio, and his brother, Walter. A son, Robert, died in 2011.

Shiroma Silva

The GuardianTramp

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