Gareth Matthews was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 8, 1929. He grew up near Memphis, Tennessee. He earned his B.A. at Franklin College, where his father was a professor. Matthews began his graduate work at Harvard University, where he earned an M.A. in 1952. After a year as a Rotary Fellow at the Free University of Berlin, and a three-and-a-half year stint in the U.S. Navy, he returned to Harvard, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1961. His teaching appointments have been at the University of Virginia (1960-61), the University of Minnesota (1961-69), and the University of Massachusetts (1969-2005), where he is now professor emeritus.
Matthews first established himself with a series of important papers on Aristotle. He has also written a number of scholarly articles on St. Augustine. His later works on the philosophy of children have been translated into a dozen languages, including Chinese, Japanese, and Indonesian, as well as various European languages.
Matthews regularly teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at UMass Amherst on ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy, existentialism, applied ethics, and various topics in metaphysics. He has directed reading groups for graduate students on Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and Heidegger's Being and Time.
Matthews has been a visiting professor at Amherst College, Brown University, Mt. Holyoke College, Smith College, and the Harvard Summer School. He has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and has directed four summer seminars sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was twice awarded an NEH Fellowship.
Matthews lectures regularly in the US and abroad and has conducted philosophy discussions with elementary-school children in Austria, Australia, China, Israel, Germany, Japan, Norway, and Scotland, as well as in various schools in the U.S.
He lives with his wife, Mary, in Amherst, Massachusetts.