Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Maurice Natanson (1924-1996)

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Maurice Natanson (1924-1996)

Article excerpt

Maurice Alexander Natanson, an accomplished philosopher of existentialism and phenomenology and retired Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, died on Thursday, August 16, 1996 from prostate cancer, in his home at Santa Cruz, California, where he had recently retired.

Professor Natanson was a philosopher of legendary wit and insight, having a prodigious intellect and a commanding presence. He was one of the first American scholars to write a book on the work of Jean-Paul Sartre. He also introduced scores of American philosophers and students of philosophy to the work of the founder of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl, and the social theory of Alfred Schutz.

Natanson offered a systematic account of subjectivity that drew from both phenomenological and existential philosophy. The transcendental field of the subject could, he said, be glimpsed through its eruption in everyday life. The "epoche" engaged a suspension of belief in the everyday as well as an illumination of the irreality of things. Natanson found this movement in literary works and in perceptual experience, and offered a philosophy that sought to reveal the world in its perpetual novelty and strangeness.

Professor Natanson's scholarship included major publications in the fields of philosophy and 1,iterature, philosophy of the social sciences, and philosophy of psychiatry and medicine. He established existential phenomenology as his own philosophical approach, and in his mature work assumed a philosophical style that mixed systematic analysis with disarming anecdotes. In the last decade, he wrote two books that reflected his singular style and clarified his own philosophy of existential phenomenology: Anonymity: A Study in the Philosophy of Alfred Schutz, published by Indiana University Press in 1986; and The Erotic Bird: Phenomenology in Literature, soon to be published by Princeton University Press.

Maurice Natanson was born in New York in 1924. After receiving a B.A. from Lincoln Memorial University in 1945, he earned an M.A. at New York University and two Ph.D.'s: one in Philosophy from the University of Nebraska in 1950, and a second in Social Science from the New School of Social Research in New York in 1953. …

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