My wife had him for 1st year philosophy when she was doing her BSc in the late 70s. She delighted in his idiosyncrasies. I'm sure he was her favourite lecturer that year. I had done philosophy at Monash a year or so before. When I looked at what she was doing in his course I thought she was extremely lucky to be doing such a stimulating and high level course in 1st year.
Here I am over a decade later still realizing how much more he had to teach (or I had to learn). He's the only lecturer I'm still looking up now. He was a very entertaining lecturer I fondly remember his digressions into how "When I am emperor of the universe, _this_" (referring to third year logic subjects) "would be taught in primary schools, grade two at the latest... however deductive logic would start being taught in preschool". I thought I'd have a crack at learning Joy (maybe write a Java port or something ridiculous) just so I'd have an excuse to send him an email saying hi. That's the kind of impression he left on me, the man was golden in my eyes. One story for programmers. He taught the _best_ compiler class _ever_. It has to be in context... Final year Logic class run by the humanities department, yet it was more advanced than the compuer science departments compiler classes... For a two hour block each week Manfred would come in and write a pascal (IIRC) program (logic compiler, in retrospect probably a cousin of Joy) on the blackboard in chalk (live coding before youtube), all the while narrating his options and design decisions, and each week our assignment was to write that program (with bonus points for using difficult languages) and fix any "typos" to get it to compile. Submit working programs most of the time and you pass... best class ever.... best lecturer ever.
Manfred taught me at La Trobe in the late 1980s. He was a truly great, quirky and inspirational educator. One of those few and far between academics from whom one always looked forward to receiving the next assignment because you knew completing it would be both illuminating and great fun. As an aside, Manfred was also one of the best computer programmers I have come across in half a life time in the software development industry! I am not exactly sure what the icon I have chosen below is meant to be but I am assuming that it is an old fashioned computer disk pack, as I feel that would be appropriate.
Manfred von Thun taught me Deductive & Inductive Logic at La Trobe University in the late 1980s. He was a truly inspirational teacher. Something made me wonder what he was up to now, so I Googled him - and found this. This is very sad news. I extend my deepest sympathies to Manfred's family & friends.
Too many memories to share here and for so long. I knew Manfred for 46 years, as mentor, brother and uncle type persona throughout my life. He was a man of peace, good cheer and enormous intelligence. He was a generous and most considerate friend and his humor was contageous and his good will offered to all; he was loved by many. Dearest friend, in my heart, my memories and indeed my future, you will be cherished, because your kindness and rational approach to problems will be recalled as I travel on in my world.
Manfred crafted very fine furniture made of wood; without screws or nails.. Manfred wrote romantic sonnets, minnets, tonnets as well as logical and philosphical courses with memorable details. He made pavlovas from scratch; fixed anything and everything with uncannily dextrous fingers; good humour patience ingenious skill impossible to match. With Manfred there was never a hidden agenda,an expectation of reward; or a catch. Manfred lavishly rewarded an original thought, a creative bon mot, any comical contrbiution to a conversation with laughter that was unabashedly loud- it could rival a kookaburra's!- locate him at a long distance, or, easily, in any large crowd crowd. He loved to be delighted, and often was. He could be delightful! Manfred was erudite and knowledgeable, about many things abstract and abstruse; yet he suffered fools graciously and listened patiently to naive and crackpot views. Manfred was modest and mostly mild; invariably frugal with himself, and unstintingly generous to others; ever kindly, idiosyncratically charming, always self-effacing, and consistently caring. Manfred was a mature grownup who had retained the curiosity and joy of an incorrigible, endearing and precocious child! These few words do not do justice to the man, Manfred von Thun, dearly beloved; it would take too many more.
I knew Freddy personally for about 17 years. He was a very unique, honourable, genuine and a sincerely caring friend. He had a quirky sense of humour like no other. I loved his humour the most, but with him gone I find myself reflecting on all of the fine attributes he had. I will miss him.
I knew Manfred first as a wonderful teacher and later as a kind and generous colleague with a wicked sense of humour.
I remember computer science tutorials with Manfred back in 1885/1986, where he would use ham sandwiches as analogies to computing concepts such as recursion, stacks etc. His unique approach, ferocious intelligence and seemingly effortless ability to bridge the gap between the cerebral and the everyday are characteristics which I have never forgotten and which have, in turn, helped me throughout my life. I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing.
I remember Manfred as lecturer and tutor during my undergraduate years at Latrobe, including 1. the use of a toy xylophone as accompaniment to his 'singing' of truth tables: "true false true true ...". 2. positioning a sentence's full stop before the closing double quote (still seems odd to me) 3. the leather jacket 4. his knowledge of the Latrobe underground 5. his story of being perplexed at certain numbers written on a blackboard during an exam he was sitting in Sydney. The numbers turned out to be results of the Melbourne Cup. 6. his advice and encouragement I'm off to revisit Joy ...
He was a great mentor and teacher to me 30+ years ago. I think of him with great fondness and appreciate the kindness he showed me.
I am saddened to hear of Manfred's passing, seems untimely. I did not know Manfred well at all, but he was always gracious to me at La Trobe Philosophy; I was only a postgraduate and some-time tutor; he came to couple of the papers I read over the years at La Trobe Philosophy seminars. He showed some interest in Indian inductive logic but could not get very far on this subject with the late Ian Kesarcodi-Watson: I talked with Manfred whenever the subject came up and shared whatever I was learning about Indian logic from Matilal's works (curiously I am back in Oxford for a while, and Matilal is no more either). I used to enjoy witnessing rather heated arguments between Manfred and Moshe Kroy (who too is no more) in the Brain Ellis seminar-tea room, and occasionally in Departmental Meetings. And there was a very rowdy one I remmeber at one of the departmental end of the year parties in Ray Pinkerton's office downstairs; I think the spirits were very high, but it was a lot of fun, and always philosophical: Manfred didn't have much time, it seems, for 'small talk. 'Joy' is a wonderful legacy has left behind, by all counts.'