Paul Edwards (1923-2004) is best known as the editor of The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Macmillian, 1967), a massive 8-volume compendium of 1,500 entries on various philosophical topics written by over 500 contributors. It was widely received as the definitive philosophical reference work of the 20th century until the late publication of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy in 1998. He also edited a well-known collection of essays on religion by Bertrand Russell titled Why I am Not a Christian (Simon and Schuster, 1957), where in the appendix he contributed an account of how Russell was denied a teaching appointment because of his views on religion. Edwards was also editor of Immortality (Macmillian, 1992), a standard sourcebook on philosophy and life after death with selections from historical and modern authors of various stripes and an informative 70-page introduction. Here Edwards weighed in on the immortality question with a pointed contribution titled "The Dependence of Consciousness on the Brain." He was also editor of the compilation of Voltaire's writings titled Voltaire:
Selections (Macmillian, 1989) and A Modern Introduction to
Philosophy: Readings from Classical and Contemporary Sources with Arthur Pap (Free Press, 1965).
Edwards has authored Heidegger's Confusions (Prometheus, 2004),
Reincarnation: A Critical Examination (Prometheus, 1996), Heidegger and Death: A Critical Evaluation (Open Court, 1979), and The Logic of Moral Discourse (Free Press, 1955). God and the Philosophers is forthcoming from Prometheus Books in 2005.
Additionally, he has contributed entries such as "capital punishment,"
"dictionaries and encyclopaedias of philosophy," and "God and the philosophers" to The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1995), and entries on A.J. Ayer, logical positivism, and Voltaire to The Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Prometheus, 1984). His notable entries in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy include those on atheism and the meaning and value of life. The latter entry is reprinted as Ch. 12 of E. D. Klemke's The Meaning of Life (Oxford University Press, 1999, 2nd edn.). Other reference contributions by Edwards appear in The Encyclopedia of Ethics (Garland, 1992).
Edwards has also published several articles: "The Case Against Reincarnation," Pts. 1-4, Free Inquiry, Fall 1986-Summer 1987; "Difficulties in the Idea of God" in The Idea of God, edited by E. H. Madden, R. Handy, and M. Farber (Charles Thomas, 1968); "The Cosmological Argument," The Rationalist Annual, 1959, reprinted as Ch. 6 of Louis Pojman's Philosophy: The Quest for Truth (Oxford University Press, 2002, 5th edn.); and "Hard and Soft Determinism" in Determinism and Freedom in the Age of Modern Science: A Philosophical Symposium, edited by Sidney Hook (New York University Press, 1958).
In 1979 he received the Nicholas Murray Butler Silver Medal for distinguished contributions to philosophy from Columbia University. He taught at City College of New York, University of California, Berkeley, New York University, Brooklyn College, and finally the New School for Social Research before retiring from teaching in the late 1990s.