Guide to the Papers of David Armstrong
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- Armstrong, D.M. (David Malet), 1926-
- Papers of David Armstrong
- Date Range
- Collection Number
- MS 9363
- 3.71 metres (27 boxes)
- Language of Materials
Scope and Content
The papers fall into three categories. The early series comprise a comprehensive record of David Armstrong's philosophical writings extending from his undergraduate days at the University of Sydney until the early 1980s. They include not only the drafts, usually handwritten, of his essays, articles, lectures and book reviews, but associated correspondence with other philosophers and with editors of journals, reviews of his early books, and his notes of lectures that he attended at Sydney and Oxford University.
Secondly, there is a series of files documenting Armstrong's strong interest in a range of social and political questions, especially during the Vietnam War years. They include speeches and addresses, articles for university and other newspapers, records of the Sydney University Association for Cultural Freedom, and papers on the 1970 and 1971 Vietnam Moratoriums.
The third category comprise papers relating to disputes within the Department of Philosophy at Sydney University and the split into two departments in 1973. They include correspondence, submissions, petitions, circulars, agenda papers, cuttings and other papers dating from 1965 until 1985.
Among the correspondents are John Burnheim, Keith Campbell, Noam Chomsky, Michael Devitt, Owen Harries, Eugene Kamenka, W.M. O'Neil, J.J.C. Smart and Alan Stout.
Access conditions may apply to this collection, please refer to the collection's catalogue record for further information (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn239780).
Copying and Publishing
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
Items from this collection should becited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of David Armstrong, National Library of Australia, [class, series and/or file number]'.
The papers were donated by Professor Armstrong to the National Library under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme in 1992. Further papers were added in 1999, 2001 and 2012.
The papers were filed chronologically by Professor Armstrong in a number of series and this arrangement has been maintained by the Library.
David Malet Armstrong was born in Melbourne on 8 July 1926, the son of Commodore John Armstrong, RAN and Philippa Armstrong. He was educated at Dragon School, Oxford, and Geelong Grammar School. He served in the Royal Australian Navy in 1945-46. He then enrolled at the University of Sydney, where he graduated with an Honours degree in Philosophy in 1950. He continued his philosophical studies at Exeter College, Oxford, where his supervisor was H.H. Price. Graduating as a B.Phil., he lectured at London University before returning to Australia in 1955.
Armstrong took up a post as a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne in 1956, becoming Senior Lecturer in 1961. He was awarded a doctorate in 1960. In 1964 he returned to the University of Sydney as the Challis Professor of Philosophy and held this position until his retirement in 1991. Following a split in the Department of Philosophy in 1973, he was the first Head of the Department of Traditional and Modern Philosophy. Since 1991 he has been Emeritus Professor of Philosophy.
Armstrong's particular interests have been in the areas of the theory of knowledge and perception, the philosophy of mind and metaphysics and his writings quickly brought him an international reputation. He has held Visiting Professorships at Yale University, Stanford University and the Universities of Wisconsin, Texas and California. His principal publications are Berkeley's theory of vision (1960), Perception and the physical world (1961), Bodily sensations (1962), A materialist theory of the mind (1968), Belief, truth and knowledge (1973), Universals and scientific realism (1978), The nature of mind and other essays (1980), What is a law of nature? (1983), Consciousness and causality (1984), Universals (1989), A combinatorial theory of possibility (1989), A world of states of affairs (1997) and The mind-body problem (1999).
Armstrong is a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1993.
Armstrong married Madeleine Haydon in 1950 and Jennifer Clark in 1982.
Armstrong maintained files on his philosophical writings, including books, articles, essays, comments on other writings and conference papers, in strict chronological order. This series of files begin with undergraduate essays at Sydney University in 1947-50 and continues until 1980. All the files contain a copy of the particular work, whether it be a manuscript, typescript, reprint or photocopy. Many of the files also contain drafts, correspondence with other philosophers, editors of journals and occasionally students. Reviews and contracts with publishers can be found in the files on some of his books, such as Berkeley's theory of vision (1960), Perception and the physical world (1961), and Belief, truth and knowledge (1973).
The correspondents include A.J. Ayer, C. Behan McCullagh, John Beloff, Max Black, Robert Brown, Konrad Cramer, George Davie, Max Deutscher, Michael Devitt, Antony Flew, Paul Foulkes, Owen Harries, Frank Jackson, Graham MacDonald, John Mackie, C.B. Martin, Hugh Mellor, James Moulder, H.H. Price, Colin Radford, Peter Ryan, Roy Sellars, Sydney Shoemaker, J.J.C. Smart, Alistair Stewart, Michael Tooley and G.N.A. Vesey
Includes letter of Charles Whiteley
Putnam's 'Twin earth' case, 1979; Uninstantiated universals, 1979; R.B. Braithwaite's argument for the constant-conjunction view of laws, 1979 (File 84)
This series consists largely of the manuscripts of lectures on philosophy given by Armstrong at the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney and some overseas universities. He wrote them out by hand, often on foolscap pads, and they are usually a verbatim record of the lecture. In a few cases the files contain roneoed copies of lecture notes and reading lists issued to students by Armstrong. The files were maintained by Armstrong in chronological order and this order has been retained.
The files in this series contain reviews by Armstrong in various forms: typescripts, photocopies, reprints and issues of journals. In some cases, copies of reviews by other writers have been included and there is also some correspondence with the authors of the books reviewed, other philosophers and writers, or with the editors of journals. The files were kept in chronological order by Armstrong.
The correspondents include H.W. Arndt, Sir Alfred Ayer, Noam Chomsky, Manning Clark, Paul Foulkes, John Gross, B.J. Mijuskovic, Karl Popper, Geoffrey Sampson, Roger Sandall, Richard Taylor and David Wilson.
The dates in the list refer to the date of publication of the review.
Includes correspondence with Paul Foulkes, 1972
Includes correspondence with B.J. Mijuskovic
Includes correspondence and other reviews
Most of the files in this series contain handwritten notes by Armstrong of philosophy lectures he attended at the University of Sydney and Oxford University between 1947 and 1954. In a few cases there are typescript or roneoed copies of lectures that he did not attend. The typescript notes of lectures by Michael Oakeshott at the London School of Economics in 1951-52 were made by Peter Coleman.
The papers in these files are quite diverse in both form and content. In addition to manuscript, typescript and printed copies of some of Armstrong's addresses and speeches, there are letters, reports, petitions, circulars, newspaper cuttings and issues of student newspapers. Some of the files relate to a particular talk, while others deal with organisations or activities extending over a period. Examples of the latter are the files on the Sydney University Association for Cultural Freedom, the 1971 Vietnam Moratorium and the 1976 Latvian protest.
The correspondents include W.H.C. Eddy, Nicholas Farnham, Gerard Henderson, Eugene Kamenka, J. van der Kroef, Lia Looveer, Bruce Mansfield and Vu Van Hieu.
Should the university be politically neutral? 1971; The role of the university in social change, 1972 (File 16)
Authority and discipline in society, 1974; Sakharov Appeal, 1975; Vietnam: Vu Van Hieu, 1975 (File 21)
Armstrong was appointed Challis Professor of Philosophy at Sydney University in 1964. In the following year he was a central figure in a public dispute when the Professorial Board overruled the decision of a Selection Committee to appoint Frank Knopfelmacher as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy. Divisions within the Department became acute in 1971-1973. The issues included the introduction of a Marxist-Leninist course in 1971, the appointment of Patrick Flanagan as a tutor in 1972, an attack on Armstrong by his colleague Michael Devitt in a private note which led to debates and questions in the State Parliament, and moves to introduce a feminist course in 1973. These disputes culminated in a staff and student strike and demonstrations in June 1973. Faced with the possibility of an exodus of philosophers, the Vice-Chancellor decided in October 1973 to split the Department into two units: the Department of Traditional and Modern Philosophy initially headed by Armstrong and the Department of General Philosophy initially headed by John Burnheim. Together they constituted the School of Philosophy.
Armstrong assembled and retained a comprehensive collection of papers and printed material documenting these disputes in great detail (files 1-21). They include correspondence, both private and official, open letters, statements, submissions, petitions, draft motions, agenda papers, circulars, leaflets, student newspapers and other publications, issues of journals and parliamentary debates. The correspondence includes letters from members of the public commenting on the disputes. The papers were kept in manila files or loose in box letter files under the headings 'Knopfelmacher dispute', 'Marxist-Leninist dispute' and 'Philosophy disputes' and this general arrangement has been retained by the Library.
The 1974-1984 papers in this series (files 22-37) mostly deal with the relations between the two departments following the 1973 split. They refer to such matters as proposals for common courses and seminars, the appointment of tutors and other staff, the staff-student ratios in the two departments, decision-making within the departments, the 1977 report on problems in the School of Philosophy, transfer of staff between the departments, discussions about curriculum, the role of Armstrong as the only full Professor in the School, and arguments about possible amalgamation of the departments in the early 1980s. They include copies of letters and other documents supplied to Armstrong by his colleagues in the Department of Traditional and Modern Philosophy.
The correspondents include John Burnheim, Keith Campbell, Paul Crittenden, Michael Devitt, John Gunn, Owen Harries, R. Ian Jack, Frank Knopfelmacher, Professor Henry Mayer, Graham Nerlich, Professor W.M. O'Neil, Professor H.L. Rogers, Professor R.N. Spann, Professor Edward Shils, David Stove, Professor Alan Stout, Professor J.M. Ward and Professor Bruce Williams.
The files in this small series were among the philosophical papers, but have been segregated as they deal with more general matters.
The first file documents Armstrong's involvement in the selection of the first Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tasmania since the dismissal of Sydney Sparkes Orr in 1956. The three files on overseas trips mostly consist of correspondence, both official and personal. The file on Armstrong's 1969 visit to England includes a large number of letters from his parents and friends and colleagues in Australia, some of them reporting on activities within the Department of Philosophy at Sydney University.
The correspondents include Tom Fitzgerald, Richard Krygier, Graham Nerlich, H.B. Acton (Edinburgh), John Beloff (Edinburgh), Peter Caldwell (Cambridge), Antony Flew (Keele), E.J. Furlong (Belfast), Selwyn Grave (Perth), Michael Hodges, D.A. Kearney (Hobart), (Nashville), James Moulder (Grahamstown), Stephen Pepper (Berkeley), Edward Poznanski (Jerusalem) and Roland Puccetti (Singapore).
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