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Joseph H. Shieber

Joseph H. Shieber

Joseph H., April 7, 2024 of Wallingford, PA. Beloved husband of Lesa Shieber; proud father of Samuel and Noa; loving son of Benjamin and Eileen Shieber; devoted brother of William (Rebecca) Shieber and Jonathan (Kathleen) Shieber.

Joseph (“Joe”) Shieber was a loving husband and father, beloved son and brother, and respected Professor at Lafayette College. But that brief description does not encompass Joe’s remarkable impact on everyone he met.

Joe grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, within walking distance of LSU, where his dad, Professor Ben Shieber taught and his mom, Eileen Shieber, received her graduate degree. From the start, Joe was blessed with great intelligence, an even temperament, and a profound gift for friendship and love. Joe went to Yale College where he received his B.A. in Literature, while participating in the singing groups Tangled Up In Blue and the Whiffenpoofs. He then studied at the Free University in Berlin, where he received two Masters Degrees, in Mathematics and Philosophy, and Brown University, where he received a Ph.D. in Philosophy. His Brown graduation was blessed with a driving rain, and the Ph.D. recipients were forced to sit outside while an appropriate worthy person droned on with thoughts on how to lead a good life. Perhaps it was this experience which led to Joe’s research on effective (or ineffective) communications.

Joe then went off to teach Philosophy at Lafayette College. At the time of his death, Joe was the James Renwick Hogg Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy, which is quite the mouthful. Joe was a beloved teacher and colleague. He was, by his fellow faculty’s account, the smartest and best-read philosopher in a department made up of smart and well-read philosophers. Philosophers are conditioned to make the first statement, the fastest statement, and the best statement. Joe was not that way. Joe always waited, giving respect to those who were speaking. He was decent, and his intellectual generosity was "really honest."

Joe was an extraordinarily productive scholar. His book “Testimony: A Philosophical Introduction” was the first introductory analysis of this critically important topic. At the time of his death, Joe was working on another book, “Knowledge for Zombies: A Naturalistic Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge.” He also regularly published scholarly articles and taught a Great Courses class on “Theories of Knowledge: How to Think about What you Know.” Joe also wrote a column for the online journal, 3 Quarks Daily, which covered essentially everything (from Shakespeare to Indian Philosophical Traditions in Neuroscience).

Most importantly, Joe was devoted to his students. After his death, at a gathering at Lafayette, student after student spoke about how Joe had treated them all as individuals, worthy of love and respect, reaching out to students during Covid who he felt needed extra support no matter where they were located. Joe would wake up at 4:30 a.m. to drive to Lafayette College to teach an 8:00 a.m. class on logic. According to one student, if Professor Shieber was willing to get up so early to make it to the class, he could make it to the class. Another student observed that watching Professor Shieber teach and respond to questions from other students by modeling professionalism and care made him a better person. But Lafayette College gave as much to Joe as he gave to the college. 

At Lafayette, Joe met the love of his life, Lesa Austin, now of course Lesa Shieber. He married Lesa in Colton Chapel at Lafayette College in May 2010. When Lesa got a job at Swarthmore, Joe and Lesa moved to the Philadelphia area, where Samuel (now thirteen years old) and Noa (now nine years old) were born.

Joe was a devoted father. He was so proud of Sam’s ability to memorize anything, like the periodic table and Noa’s skills at learning German. Joe was also extremely proud of Lesa and her accomplishments at Lafayette, Swarthmore, and now Haverford College. Joe believed, with justification, that he could not have had a better wife. In Platonic Philosophy, there is a distinction made between the Nice and the Good. People can be nice but should strive to be good. Joe was both. That is the rarest of combinations and the finest one.

Family and friends are invited to chapel services, Friday April 12, 2024, 1:30pm (promptly) the family will begin seeing guests beginning at 12:45pm at Joseph Levine and Sons Memorial Chapel, 1002 Skippack Pike Blue Bell, PA. 

Interment is private.

Contributions in Joseph's memory may be made to Tyler Arboretum, 515 Painter Road, Media, PA 19063, or visit https://tylerarboretum.org/tributes-memorials/

www.levinefuneral.com

Past Services

Memorial Service

Friday, April 12, 2024

Starts at 1:30 pm (Eastern time)

Joseph Levine and Sons-Blue Bell

1002 West Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422

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