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Robert Cumming, at 87; author, philosophy teacher

NEW YORK -- Robert Cumming, a former philosophy professor who wrote several books about phenomenology, died Aug. 25 in Manhattan. He was 87.

His death was announced by Columbia University, where he taught for 37 years before retiring in 1985.

Dr. Cumming wrote several books, including a four-volume work on phenomenology, the study of how perceptions of events shape a person's reality. The volumes, published between 1991 and 2002, were titled ''Phenomenology and Deconstruction: The Dream Is Over," ''Method and Imagination," ''Breakdown in Communication" and ''Solitude."

Among the philosophers discussed in the books were Husserl, Sartre, and Heidegger.

Dr. Cumming was born on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and graduated from Harvard University in 1938. He served as a member of the Free French Army, earning the French Croix de Guerre for bravery and the Legion of Merit.

He earned his doctorate at the University of Chicago and began teaching at Columbia in 1948.

He was chairman of the philosophy department from 1961 to 1964.

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