Frederick Charles Copleston

(1907—1994) philosopher and Jesuit

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Frederick C. Copleston was born near Taunton in Somerset on 10 April 1907 and died in London on 3 February 1994. His family background was a rather privileged one. His father worked in the upper reaches of the Indian Civil Service, and two of his uncles were bishops of the Anglican Communion. He was sent as a boarder to Marlborough public school at the age of nine, where Louis MacNeice, John Betjeman and Anthony Blunt were among his fellow students. He wrote once that he was ‘certainly not miserable’ at Marlborough, though it seems that his interest in religious matters isolated him somewhat from his peers (Memoirs of a Philosopher, p. 14). During his time there he became progressively disenchanted with the Church of England, and in his final year, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church. His attraction to mystical prayer played a not insignificant role in this conversion, the writings of St Teresa and St John of the Cross in particular influencing him. He had come to feel that mystical religion of this type was, as he put it, ‘a foreign body in the Church of England’ (Memoirs of a Philosopher, p. 31). Another crucial factor in this conversion seems to have been his conviction that any church founded by the Incarnate Son of God must speak with an authoritative voice.


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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