Bendall Remembered for Teaching Philosophy 29 Years at Wesleyan

L. Kent Bendall, professor of philosophy, emeritus, died on May 15 at the age of 88.

Bendall received his BA from Rice University and his MA and PhD from Yale University. He arrived at Wesleyan in 1963, where he taught philosophy until his retirement in 1992. During his 29 years at Wesleyan, Bendall was an integral part of the University and the Philosophy Department. He served many terms as chair of the Education Policy Committee and of the Philosophy Department; he also served as chair of the University Senate and was a member of the planning committee for the new African American Institute in 1974.

He was a philosopher who was devoted to the ideal of truth and a rigorous search for it. Joe Rouse, Hedding Professor of Moral Science and Professor of Philosophy, recalled: “Kent Bendall was an excellent logician and philosopher, and a generous colleague and friend. Two considerations will always stand out in my recollection of Kent: his extraordinary clarity of thought and expression, and his utterly unquestionable personal and intellectual integrity.”

Professor of Philosophy Sanford Shieh said: “Kent’s best-known work in logic is on non-standard, non-metaphysical semantics for modal logic in terms of probability and of theories, and on proof-theoretic characterizations of the meanings of logical constants. He had been working on the former throughout his retirement, which, happily for me, was mostly around Wesleyan. The latter is now finally getting attention it richly deserves, playing a significant role in recent philosophy of logic.”

“It was a privilege to have been a colleague of Kent Bendall,” said Brian Fay, William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus. “He was probably the most brilliant person I’ve ever known; listening to him from my adjoining office provided me with an ongoing philosophical education that I treasure. In addition, behind his intelligence and intensity was a deeply caring, kind man who was a model citizen of, and contributor to, the University and the Philosophy Department. His passing has deprived me of an enriching and animating presence that I deeply miss.”

Bendall is survived by his wife of 37 years, Janice, his daughters Carol and Reninca, his stepson Christopher, and his grandson Blake. Plans for a memorial event are currently on hold. Memorial contributions may be made in Kent’s name to Médecins Sans Frontières.