Friday, November 30, 2007

Greatest American Philosopher?

A student recently asked me who I thought was the Greatest American Philosopher. Of course I didn't have an answer -- how could there be? -- but it did get me thinking.

First, what counts as an American philosopher? Would it have to be someone working in the American Philosophical Tradition? Or could it be someone who is simply American and a philosopher?

And who counts as a philosopher? What about Benjamin Franklin, e.g.? Or Jefferson? Or Elizabeth Cady Stanton?

And what about living vs. dead? Or contemporary vs. classical?

My favorite American philosopher is Dewey, and I think he is pretty "great", too.

Among contemporary philosophers, I'm just not sure.

But if I had to put money on who I think will be read 400 years from now*, I'd bet on William James.

Who else: which American philosophers will our great great great great great great grandchildren still be reading?

*Avrum Stroll makes a claim somewhere that Wittgenstein is probably the only 20th century philosopher who'll still be read 400 years from now.


Blogger R. LEE said...

id put peirce and emerson up there too

12:24 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

How about Richard Rorty?

3:48 PM  

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