Monday, April 28, 2014
The noted Princeton political theorist Paul Sigmund died yesterday at the age of 85. Paul's interests were catholic and Catholic: books on Nicholas of Cusa, natural law, liberation theology, and Chilean politics, as well as edited volumes on Thomas Aquinas and John Locke. He was at Princeton for over 50 years, beginning in 1963 when there were few Catholic intellectual voices outside of Catholic universities. The main current of his work was exploring the relation of Catholic political thought and the natural law tradition to liberal democracy in a range of contemporary (Christian Democracy in Chile) and historical (conciliarism) settings. He was also a wonderfully warm and intellectually curious man, as I saw firsthand when I rented a room in his home while at Princeton on a fellowship in the James Madison Program. His life was touched by tragedy, which made his good cheer and generosity all the more remarkable. Paul's wife Barbara Boggs Sigmund (daughter of Hale and Lindy Boggs) was Mayor of Princeton and a Democratic candidate for US Senate from New Jersey, but her political career and life with Paul and their sons were cut tragically short when she died from cancer 24 years ago. Requiescat in pace.