Icons of Unbelief: Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists

By S. T. Joshi | Go to book overview

Corliss Lamont

Bill Cooke

Corliss Lamont (1902–1995) was born into the very upper reaches of American society. He could trace the arrival of his father’s family in the United States to the 1750s and his Scottish ancestry back to the thirteenth century. His mother’s family was no less illustrious, going back to William Bradford (1589–1657), who arrived on the Mayflower and later served as governor of Plymouth Colony. Another ancestor on his mother’s side, Elihu Corliss, fought at Bunker Hill.

Thomas Lamont (1870–1948), Corliss’s father, was the son of an impecunious Methodist minister from upper New York State. Clearly a capable youth, Thomas was accepted at Phillips Exeter Academy, which led to Harvard, before turning his extraordinary skills to business and finance. In 1911 he became a business partner of the banker and entrepreneur J. P. Morgan (1867–1943) and, after his death, chairman of the board of J. P. Morgan & Company. No less remarkable, Corliss’s mother had taken an MA degree in philosophy at Columbia in 1898 and was a supporter of civil liberties, birth control, and a variety of other progressive causes. The Lamont family was conscientious, philanthropic, supportive of the arts, and cosmopolitan, and young Corliss grew up listening to some of the world’s most influential thinkers at the family dining table.


LAMONT ON IMMORTALITY

His mother took Lamont’s birth on Good Friday as a good omen for his future piety. She was to be disappointed. While still a student, he became familiar with atheist and socialist thinking, a familiarity that his fellow student Sidney Hook claimed the credit for (Hook, 237). This claim could be true

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Icons of Unbelief: Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali 1
  • Charles Bradlaugh 9
  • Richard Dawkins 27
  • Daniel C. Dennett 39
  • John Dewey 51
  • Albert Einstein 67
  • The Existentialists 79
  • The Founding Fathers 97
  • Sigmund Freud 125
  • Sam Harris 141
  • Thomas Henry Huxley 153
  • Robert G. Ingersoll 175
  • Paul Kurtz 193
  • Corliss Lamont 211
  • H. P. Lovecraft 223
  • H. L. Mencken 241
  • John Stuart Mill 261
  • Kai Nielsen 279
  • Friedrich Nietzsche 297
  • Madalyn Murray O’Hair 319
  • The Philosophes 335
  • Bertrand Russell 357
  • Carl Sagan 379
  • Leslie Stephen 389
  • Mark Twain 401
  • Gore Vidal 415
  • Voltaire 427
  • General Bibliography 443
  • About the Contributors 449
  • Index 455
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