Thomas Paterson Brown (composed for the Amherst College Class of '60, 50th Reunion Book)

In the autumn of '56 I arrived at Amherst, a well-traveled (in N America) but intellectually naive lad from Missouri. Thereupon I encountered Thoreau, Thucidides, Kennick and Frost, so in those four years learned both to think and to appreciate. Then in the autumn of '60 (on an Amherst fellowship), I went to England to do graduate work at University College London, exploring blissfully on the Continent during the lengthy vacations over the next couple of years. My PhD dissertation ('63), The Logic of God, was an analysis of divinity as an evaluative rather than a descriptive concept, ‘with an examination of the associated criteria of specifically religious values’. Returning to the U$A in January of '63, in order to avoid the draft I took a post in the philosophy faculty at SUNY Binghamton. During those years I was also a visiting prof at UCLA (Summer '65) and Calgary (Summer '66), and published several oft-reprinted articles in philosophical theology ( A vital aspect of faculty life at Binghamton was that fully half of the students were post-Dylan NYC Jewish genius radicals (prototypical peacenik hippies); but indeed everywhere, academics such as myself were inevitably involved in the incandescent social changes of those times. Having previously marched in London with Russell and the CND against the Bomb, and remembering impassioned Amherst lectures on nuclear weaponry by both Willard Libby and Edward Teller, I was already a heartfelt political radical. Thus in the surge of those tumultuous times, toward the end of the '60s, I left university teaching altogether and wholeheartedly joined in the Counterculture '67-'72—which was as long as that unprecedented phenomenon actually lasted. The kids were simply right, after all; ‘Peace, Love and Brotherhood’ is as good as it gets, however challenging to put into practice. (The youngsters did amazingly well, I thought—immeasurably better, in any event, than their elders had done across the centuries.) During those years I lived the proverbial possessionless communal/spiritual/itinerant lifestyle up and down the West Coast, in California and then in Oregon. It was also during that time (in '69) that I learned of the fortuitous discovery in Egypt of three previously unknown Gospels, and so began a life-long study of the Coptic language. That was 40 years ago. Since then I have traveled very widely around our tired but wondrous planet (I'm currently living in South America, a refugee from the looming cataclysm), had many memorable adventures, and met lots of extraordinary folks. The fruition of my Coptic work is online at:, where there is also a full résumé.

February 2009