Farewell to Dr. Richard Paul

I recently received the following email with the sad news that Dr. Richard Paul had died this summer at the end of August.

Richard Paul was my favorite professor of philosophy at Sonoma State University. He was a dynamic lecturer,  a terrific mentor, and a leading theorist and advocate of critical thinking.  Learning from him was the closest thing to learning from Socrates that I will ever experience.


Richard Paul

September 1, 2015

Dear Critical Thinking Colleagues:

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the death of our Founder, Dr. Richard William Paul, who died quietly in his sleep on August 30, 2015. Paul suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

Richard left many lasting original contributions to the field of critical thinking studies, and revolutionized the way we conceptualize critical thinking throughout his work in the 1980s and to the present. He contributed significantly to what may be properly termed first principles in critical thinking – through his conceptualization of the elements of thought as a rich set of dynamic interrelated processes embedded in everyday reasoning, of universal intellectual standards that should be used to assess thought on an everyday basis, and of intellectual virtues, to which ethical reasoners aspire in order to advance and contribute to fairminded critical societies. Further, Richard spent a lifetime helping educators understand the importance of integrating a robust conception of critical thinking into instruction, and developing methods for fostering critical thinking in teaching and learning.

The depth of our sadness at the personal loss of Richard Paul is at such a level that we ourselves cannot comprehend it. Only time and proper activity of mind will help us through the personal loss.

For the intellectual community, the loss of Richard Paul is profound. Richard was that original thinker who comes along but rarely, who takes the workings of the mind seriously, and who cultivates ideas that, when taken seriously, can help anyone and everyone function at a far higher level of ability and capacity. Like Socrates, Richard believed in the power of the mind to command and take charge of itself. And, again like Socrates, Richard spent a lifetime developing and creating concepts, or ideas, that would help others work through what he himself was continually working though in the privacy of his own mind. Consequently, Richard Paul offered many original concepts to the field of critical thinking studies, and developed considerable original theory of critical thinking. His influence on the thinking of those who have taken critical thinking seriously in the past three decades, both in the US and across the world is incalculable.

The funeral and memorial service for Dr. Paul will be held in Tomales, California, on Thursday September 3. …

We share with you our sadness during this mournful time.


Linda Elder                                      Gerald Nosich

President and Senior Fellow   Senior Fellow and Bertrand Russell Distinguished Chair


Related Links:

The Foundation for Critical Thinking

The Center for Critical Thinking and Moral Critique