CLASS Remembers Philosophical Giant, Professor Emeritus Bredo Johnsen

Dr. Bredo Johnsen
Professor Emeritus Dr. Bredo C. Johnsen
Dr. Bredo Johnsen
Professor Emeritus Dr. Bredo C. Johnson - UH Archives

The academic world has lost a luminary with the Jan. 22 passing of Professor Emeritus Bredo Johnsen, a distinguished member of the University of Houston Department of Philosophy.

Johnsen made a lasting impact on the field of philosophy, earning his master’s degree in philosophy from Wayne State during that department's golden age in the early 1960s followed by a Ph.D. from Harvard. In 1967, Johnsen launched a nearly five-decade-long tenure at the University of Houston, where he would play a pivotal role in the department, establishing a legacy of intellectual rigor and academic excellence that continues to resonate.

Johnsen would chair the department for 15 years, a tenure marked by significant growth and development thanks to his leadership and collaboration with esteemed colleagues. Beyond the department, Johnsen’s served as Associate Provost and President of the Faculty Senate at UH, enriching the university’s broader scholarly community.

"Dr. Johnsen's influence on our department’s development cannot be overstated,” said Philosophy Chair David Phillips. “His ability to nurture a culture of intellectual rigor and mutual respect among faculty and students alike was key to our success. His legacy is evident in every aspect of our department's achievements.”

A celebrated epistemologist, Johnsen's scholarly contributions were profound, with numerous publications in the discipline's most prestigious journals. His magnum opus, "Righting Epistemology: Hume’s Revolution," published by Oxford University Press in 2017, is a significant contribution to philosophical literature, showcasing his deep engagement with the work of key figures in the history of the discipline.

“Dr. Johnsen was a giant in the field of philosophy, whose academic achievements and dedication to the University of Houston’s philosophical community have left an indelible mark. His scholarly work has made lasting contributions to the field and will continue to inspire students and scholars alike,” said Daniel P. O’Connor, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, which houses the philosophy department.

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the wider academic community continue to celebrate Johnsen’s extraordinary life and contributions to the philosophy field, mourning the loss of a true pioneer in philosophical thought.