Morris Raphael Cohen

MORRIS COHEN never knew, and his parents later never remembered, the precise date or even year of his birth, except that it took place in Minsk, Russia, some time during 1880 or 1881. But when they decided to emigrate to America ( 1892), it became necessary to give a specific date of birth for every member of the family, and for Morris it was recorded as July 25, 1880. When they finally arrived in the U.S. and settled down in New York City, life turned out not so rosy or easy as expected, and there were many hardships and some poverty to endure. The boy grew up physically frail and sickly, somewhat of a recluse; so the mother made up her mind to do at least one thing: to give him a good education.

Accordingly, on completing his secondary education, Morris enrolled in the City College. He had already been for years interested in ancient thought, particularly Hebrew; but now he became interested in recent and contemporary ideas coming to him at first from his fellow-students, mainly from socialistic sources, and then from Thomas Davidson, of the Educational Alliance 1899), who acquainted the boy with modern philosophy as well.

It was understood all along in the family that Morris would be a teacher. Consequently, when he graduated in 1900 with a B.S. degree, he accepted a position to teach mathematics in one of the local highschools. However, neither the work nor the subject satisfied his aims and ambitions. Encouraged by some of his former professors, he then determined to continue his education, now at Harvard, where he earned the degree of doctor of philosophy in 1906.

Back in New York City, Cohen was invited to teach in his alma mater, in the department of mathematics. Reluctantly he accepted the job, but six years later he was able to arrange for a transfer to the department of philosophy, which was "a dream come true"; there he remained for more than a quarter of a century, never wishing to do anything else.

As a teacher, Cohen was strict and demanding; neither laziness nor stupidity were tolerated in his classes, but the more gifted

-294-

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American Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • List of Contributors ix
  • Introduction - Orientation of Thought xi
  • Suggested Readings xviii
  • Part I - Fields and Problems of American Philosophy 1
  • The Philosophy of Science: The Problem of Factual Truth 3
  • Suggested Readings 19
  • Axiology: the Problem Of Human Values 21
  • Suggested Readings 33
  • Aesthetics: the Problem of Art And Beauty 34
  • Suggested Readings 47
  • Ethics: the Problem of Morality 49
  • Suggested Readings 63
  • Semantics: the Problem Of Meaning 64
  • Suggested Readings 82
  • Logic: the Problem of Reasoning 84
  • Suggested Readings 97
  • Metaphysics: the Problems Of Knowledge and Existence 98
  • Suggested Readings 113
  • Philosophy of Religion: The Problem of Faith 114
  • Suggested Readings 127
  • Part II - Sources and Choices of Philosophy 129
  • Transcendentalism 131
  • Suggested Readings 137
  • Idealism 138
  • Suggested Readings 146
  • Thomism 147
  • Suggested Readings 154
  • Personalism 155
  • Suggested Readings 161
  • Pragmatism 162
  • Suggested Readings 171
  • Humanism 172
  • Suggested Readings 182
  • Logical Positivism 183
  • Suggested Readings 191
  • Realism 193
  • Suggested Readings 202
  • Naturalism 203
  • Suggested Readings 210
  • Oriental Philosophy in America 211
  • Part III - American Thinkers 221
  • American Thought: A Chart 223
  • William Penn 227
  • Samuel Johnson 230
  • Jonathan Edwards 233
  • Benjamin Franklin 235
  • Thomas Paine 238
  • Thomas Jefferson 241
  • Benjamin Rush 244
  • William Ellery Channing 247
  • John Caldwell Calhoun 250
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson 253
  • Abraham Lincoln 256
  • Henry David Thoreau 259
  • Walt Whitman 262
  • Robert Green Ingersoll 265
  • Charles Sanders Peirce 268
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 271
  • John Fiske 274
  • William James 277
  • Ambrose Bierce 280
  • Borden Parker Bowne 283
  • Josiah Royce 285
  • John Dewey 288
  • George Santayana 291
  • Morris Raphael Cohen 294
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt 297
  • Suggested Readings 300
  • Conclusion 303
  • Index 311
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