Chauncey Cazier Riddle graduated from Brigham Young University and received his MA and PhD degrees in philosophy from Columbia University in the city of New York. He taught at BYU for 40 years, serving as Professor of Philosophy, Chairman of the Department of Graduate Studies in Religious Instruction, Dean of the Graduate School, and Assistant Academic Vice President.
He has written articles for the Ensign, This People, FARMS, Sunstone, Brigham Young University Studies, Deseret Language and Linguistics, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, as well as other publications. While his Education Week and Sperry Symposium loyal following always packed the halls of the larger rooms at BYU for more than three dozen years.
He is quoted by apostles like Jeffrey R. Holland,
“His Father in Heaven asks Cain, “Where is Abel thy brother?” and Cain fires back, “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) Maybe the answer to that question is—as Professor Chauncey Riddle once said to me—”No, Cain, you are not expected to be your brother’s keeper. But you are expected to be your brother’s brother.” (On Earth As It Is in Heaven, p. 142)
One of his many close friends was Dr. Truman Madsen, of whom Dr. Riddle used many of his publications in his philosophy classes.
Dr. Riddle had many student teachers that worked closely with him like Monte F. Shelley:
“For several years I had the privilege of helping Chauncey teach an Honors philosophy course. He discussed three key questions of both philosophy and religion: How do we know? What is the nature of God, man and the universe? and What is good or right? He then contrasted the basic answers of philosophers with those of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. The students and I gained a greater understanding of, appreciation for, and testimony of the gospel. This book introduces readers to the questions and answers Chauncey discussed in class. These ideas significantly improved my thinking and my life. Now I can share these ideas more easily with family and friends” — Monte F. Shelley
He debated Lowell L. Bennion at a much heralded debate entitled “Liberalism vs Conservatism,” and Richard Poll on campus in the early sixties.
In 2009, he finally broke down and wrote a book, called THiNK INDEPENDENTLY, How to Think in this World but Not Think With It.
The back cover of his book says:
Skepticism is the backbone that unifies all religions, philosophies, science, and thoughtful inquiry. They all reject the idea that life without thinking and patter is sufficient. The purpose of all religions, philosophies, science and thoughtful inquiry is to allow human beings to better their life and situation by looking skeptically at whatever exists at the moment and asking how the situation could be made better.
Chauncey Riddle has done something other bright and capable people such as Hugh Nibley have done for me, opened the door to a complex subject to a layman. I think many who don’t share LDS beliefs will consider it dogmatic, but to a believer as I am, it provides a very useful comparison of traditional philosophy to what I believe. I am not sure I completely accept what is written, but neither do I reject it out of hand. I need more time to consider it. Thank you, Dr. Riddle. I miss your son, Mark.
Wade W. Fillmore
His students went on to do many great things. Some like Jon D. Green, published the impact he had on them in the same publications as Chauncey had done decades later:
I also remember Chauncey Riddle’s beginning philosophy class because he used a modified Socratic method: probing for our answers to philosophical issues rather than loading us with information that we would likely soon forget. The final paper required us to formulate our own philosophy: our own ethics, epistemology, logic, aesthetics, and metaphysics. It was a revelation to me that philosophy involved me in a deeply personal way, that I even had a personal philosophy. – Jon D. Green – Zion and Technology: A Not-So-Distant View – 7 May 1996 – Brigham Young University 1995-96 Speeches