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The ten best American philosophers Print E-mail

Monday, 09 April 2012 00:00

Written by Gary C. Gibson

The United States has produced a lot of good philosophers. naming the ten best is really simple, yet it would be better to just name ten and stipulate that most are dead. That's convenient so we won't offend the living by leaving them out of the list.  

It is better to be alive than dead generally. Of course life after death may be better than life as a kind of painful neo-death, yet we aren't the subject of this ten best philosophers essay ourselves and won't philosophize about things generally. I think that only Saul Kripke will make this list-and only because of an honorable mention by a now dead philosopher also on the list-W.V.O. Quine.

C.S. Pierce, R.W. Emerson, Mary Woolenstonecraft, W.V.O. Quine, WIlliam James, Saul Kripke, Thomas Jefferson, Josiah Royce, George Santayana and Thorstien Veblen. These are ten fine philosophers.

Einstein lived much of his life in the United States. He was Jewish, Swiss and German variously as he preferred to be.We could consider his work as philosophical of course. Yet we will say that he was Einstein and leave it at that.

There is a Monty Python video of the Philosophers World Cup. Germany and Greece have a team. So now does America. Ours is no weak team either. Peirce as forward-striker in pragmatism is strong. If we can use Einstein as a reliever then we have our closer.

Santayana was raised and educated in the United States. He was a Spanish citizen yet that was his fault. He wrote in Spain and is a dubious yet fair draft choice of consideration.

Mathematicians and physicists are fair draft choices on our 'best philosophers of America roster. Richard Feynman, Murray Gell-Mann and Steven Weinberg are positive substitutes. George Bernard Dantzig. Witten is a future draft prospect.

A website for historians (and others) has an 'old joke' about physicists and mathematicians (as well as astrologers)...

Three travelers in Scotland see a black sheep in a field.

""The astrologer excitedly exclaims, "Ah, this shows Scottish sheep are black!" The chemist didactically corrects him: "No, no, it just shows some Scottish sheep are black." The mathematician then says, "Actually, we can only be sure there is at least one Scottish sheep of which at least one side is black""

Mathematicians thus belong in the positive draft status as philosophers. Unfortunately we have only ten available slots this year.

We appreciate the writing of Henry David Thoreau. Nature is wonderful and the hatred of nature or the desire to make lampshades of it untili no longer exists indicates a deep wrong headedness prevalent endemically in mankind. Thoreau's relationship to a natural world was more meaningful when such a world was in better condition. He must remain benched until a new world such as Mars is successfully terraformed with a healthy biosphere.


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