Roosevelt: A Practical Philosopher
SOME WILL OBJECT to using the word philosophy in connection with Franklin D. Roosevelt's thought. Indeed, he was not a philosopher in the academic sense and had only a slight interest in philosophic literature. Paradoxical though it may seem, this indifference stemmed from the breadth of his views and interests. He was concerned with human life, with the world, and with power. Philosophy, on the other hand, has become a highly specialized subject -- given more to ingrown puzzles than to the current of life about us. In his thought and action Roosevelt reflected a national characteristic. As De Tocqueville observed more than a century ago, Americans pay slight attention to philosophy, yet practice a common philosophical method without troubling to define its rules.
Roosevelt's education at Groton and Harvard, his travels abroad, and his wide range of reading gave him superior grounding in Western cultural traditions. He had an absorbing interest in history and, though lacking a scholar's command, understood its importance and usefulness more than some historians. But most extraordinary in his intellectual growth was his capacity for learning by direct experience and through personal associations. He has been pictured as an extreme extrovert --