Morton White

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Morton Gabriel White (born April 29, 1917 in New York City , † May 27, 2016 in Montgomery , New Jersey ) was an American philosopher and historian of ideas . He was one of the central figures of holistic pragmatism and a well-known expert on the history of American philosophy. From 1953 to 1970 he was a professor at the Department of Philosophy at Harvard University and then at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton , where he was most recently professor emeritus .

Life and academic career

White was born on the Lower East Side of New York City . He graduated from City College of New York and went to Columbia University as a PhD student , where he was heavily influenced by John Dewey . His Ph.D. he acquired there in 1942. In 1949 he published Social Thought in America , a critical history of social philosophy as presented in the thinking of John Dewey, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. , Thorstein Veblen , Charles A. Beard and James Harvey Robinson . In a new foreword, which he added on the occasion of a re-edition in 1957, he partially withdrew his criticism. He also added an afterword in which he strongly attacked both the religious liberalism of Reinhold Niebuhr and the conservative position of Walter Lippmann . He wrote: “ Time and recent events, have brought the liberal outlook under a very different kind of attack- an attack with which I have no sympathy- and I fear that my own critical observations might be wrongly associated with arguments, positions, and purposes quite foreign to my own. ”(German:“ The passage of time and recent events have exposed the liberal views to a new kind of attack - one to which I show no benevolence - and I fear that my own critical observations are wrongly linked with arguments, positions and intentions that are extremely alien to mine ”). His 1956 book Toward Reunion in Philosophy was an attempt to reconcile the schools of American pragmatism and analytical philosophy .

At Harvard, White was a colleague of Willard Van Orman Quine for many years ; their philosophical positions are closely related to each other, above all the rejection of a sharp distinction between judgments a priori and empirical judgments in the sense of Rudolf Carnap . In contrast to Quine, however, White rejects the reduction of philosophy to the philosophy of science . For White, within the framework of holistic pragmatism, any cultural institution can be the subject of philosophical investigation, including the arts and rights.

In 1956 White was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 1972 to the American Philosophical Society .

Publications (selection)

  • The Origin of Dewey's Instrumentalism (Columbia University Press, 1943)
  • Social Thought in America: the revolt against formalism (Viking, 1949)
  • (Ed.) The Mentor Philosophers: The Age of Analysis: twentieth century philosophers (Houghton Mifflin, 1955)
  • Toward Reunion in Philosophy (Harvard University Press, 1956)
  • With Lucia White The Intellectual versus the City: from Thomas Jefferson to Frank Lloyd Wright (Harvard, 1962)
  • With Arthur M. Schlesinger (Ed.): Paths of American Thought (Houghton Mifflin, 1963)
  • The Foundations of Historical Knowledge (Harper & Row, 1965)
  • Science and Sentiment in America (Oxford University Press, 1972)
  • The Philosophy of the American Revolution (Oxford University Press, 1978)
  • What Is and What Ought to be Done: an essay on ethics and epistemology (Oxford University Press, 1981)
    • Dt: What is and what should be done: an essay on ethics and. Epistemology . Ed. U. introduced by Herbert Stachowiak. Translated by Thomas Czempin. Alber, Freiburg 1987, ISBN 3-495-47622-9
  • With Lucia White: Journeys to the Japanese, 1952-1979 (British Columbia University Press, 1986)
  • Philosophy, The Federalist, and the Constitution (Oxford University Press, 1987)
  • The Question of Free Will: a holistic view (Princeton University Press, 1993)
  • A Philosopher's Story (Penn State University Press, 1999) (Autobiography)
  • A Philosophy of Culture: The Scope of Holistic Pragmatism (Princeton University Press, 2002)
  • From a Philosophical Point of View: Selected Studies (Princeton University Press, 2004)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Morton White 1917-2016. In: Institute for Advanced Study. Retrieved June 9, 2016 .