Which Philosophers Do You Admire?
Adams (U.C. Los Angeles): I admire most of the famous philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Socrates. I admire most of the medieval philosophers like Aquinas. I have great admiration for Descartes. I have immense admiration for Kant. I admire Berkeley for his daring, clarity, style, and his creativity. Churchland, Paul (U.C. San Diego): I admire my wife [Patricia]. I think she's a very good philosopher, but that may not be the answer that you were looking for. Historically, I admire Aristotle because he was a philosopher who knew as much science as it was possible to know. I admire Descartes because he was a philosopher who knew as much physics and mathematics and physiology as it was possible at that time for a philosopher to know. I admire Bertrand Russell for the same reasons. There are many philosophers like this. I guess I don't admire all of them because some of them have come up with theories which I don't think are successful. Philosophers should know as much science as possible and that's science in a very broad sense. That includes psychology, sociology, and includes the human sciences and also the legal sciences--jurisprudence and political theory. Cohon (Stanford): [Among living philosophers] there are many I admire without necessarily agreeing with them: Donald Davidson, G.E. Moore, Anscombe, Bernard Williams, Thomas Nagel, John Rawls. I admire them for the originality and depth of their thought; some for the clarity with which they express it as well (although this is not the case for Anscombe and Williams). Copp (U.C. Davis): John Rawls. He attempts to deal with central philosophical problems. He provides a strikingly original approach. Dreyfus (U.C. Berkeley): I admire Heidegger and Merleau Ponty most. I admire, like anyone would, Aristotle because he is the great philosopher who managed to say many important things while staying close to common sense. I admire Kant because he is the greatest philosopher that ever lived, the most systematic and most original and certainly one of the most influential. But my [primary figure is] Heidegger because I think he is not only close to common sense, but deeper than Aristotle, righter than Kant. He has got the advantages of both of them but he has also got a deeper understanding of the human condition than either. Friedman (U.C. Davis): Socrates, Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Russell, Quine, Kripke, and Van Krassen because all these were radical philosophical innovators and all are breathtaking. Griesemer (U.C. Davis): I admire William Wimsatt (my dissertation advisor at the University of Chicago) because he is creative. He sees new and interesting philosophical problems about science that other people don't see. He probably doesn't produce the best answers or the most readable essays, but neither do I. I tend to value creativity and insight more than "correctness" or even "clarity." I admire Nelson Goodman and his work in art, representation, and individuals. His work is clear as well as creative. He's the sort of philosopher I find myself reading to get me jazzed up about a problem again after I've not thought about it for a long time. I admire Nancy Cartwright, a philosopher of physics. She's written a lot on abstraction, causation and laws on physical science. She is also very innovative as philosophers go. I especially like her collection of essays, "How the Laws of Physics Lie." Jolley (U.C. San Diego): Spinoza, Hobbes, Berkeley, Hume; they were intellectually fearless, and (with the possible exception of Spinoza) clear, incisive writers. Jubien (U.C. Davis): I admire most of the eight or ten frequently mentioned great philosophers of history. Among contemporaries, I especially admire Saul Kripke, David Lewis, W.V. Quine, and Roderick Chisholm. I admire all these philosophers because they have done very important work in what I think of as the most central problems of philosophy. Of course I often disagree with their views. (I admire lots of other philosophers as well.) Kaplan (U.C. Los Angeles): I admire my teacher Rudolph Carnap. I admire Sal Kripke. Lloyd (U.C. Berkeley): Hegel and Aristotle. I admire Hegel because he had such a strong sense of history. And I admire Aristotle because he had such a strong sense of the natural world. Matson (U.C. Berkeley): Aristotle. Epicurus, for his fundamentally right world-view and his hostility to superstition. Hobbes, for his incomparable style and his feistiness. Spinoza, who outlined the essentials of a scientific view of the universe and of man and the human good. Hume, for his Christianity bashing. Nietzsche, ditto, and for reviving the Aristotelian ethic for self-realization. McCann (University of Southern California): I can name a few. Locke is the person I am most interested in because Locke is one who I think did more than anyone else to lay foundations for a mechanistic theory of science. I also very much like Hume's work, another empiricist. I am also interest in Kant who has a problematic relation to both rationalism and empiricism. As for modern philosophers, the one I am most interested in is Wittgenstein. He has a complex relation to philosophical theorizing. I do not read him negatively as a lot of people do. I do not think his aim is to just say you can not have any appropriate philosophical theorizing about things at all. I think he performed an important service in reigning in some of the more ambitious speculations about the nature of mind and about the workings of language, showing that one had to be extremely careful and pay a lot of attention to detailed examples in arriving at general claims about mind and language. It is that tendency that I admire in Wittgenstein. I am pretty much a hard empiricist. What you see is it. This is another thing which Wittgenstein has done a lot to bring out. What you see is very much controlled by conceptual presuppositions and things which you have that sometimes work to the good to help structure your experience. Other times it can work to the bad, to distort what evidence is. McGray (University of San Diego): Wittgenstein, Mill, Kant, Hume, and Russell. They treat questions in a critical and ruthlessly honest way. Needleman (San Francisco State): Plato, Maimonides, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Kant. Shalinsky (U.C. San Diego): "Admiration" is probably too strong a word to describe my attitude toward philosophers. I think, personally, that it's important to be somewhat of an iconoclast: one shouldn't cower in the face of even the most imposing philosophers. In the first place, outright devotion tends to undermine (what I think is) the essentially critical spirit of philosophy. In the second place, students frequently find themselves paralyzed when confronted with the difficult text by a philosopher they idolize. I suspend my iconoclasm only in the case of Kant. His arguments are unbelievably complex (as well as, if you ask me, right) that one cannot help but feel admiration. Smart (U.C. Santa Barbara): As I said before, Popper, because of his ability to see the importance of democracy and freedom. Buddha, because he was a very subtle mind; he was very intellectual. Indians: Shankara and Ramanuja. On the Western front, David Hume, the Scottish empiricist, who in some ways has beliefs similar to those of the Buddhists. And Immanuel Kant, who was concerned with the reconciliation of science and human freedom, gearing science towards human values. Suppes (Stanford University): Among the modern philosophers I admire William James and John Dewey. James has a lot of flair that Dewey doesn't and Dewey has other virtues that James does not have. I think highly of Quine's writings. Wollheim (U.C. Davis): Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume, John Stuart Mill, Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein. Woodruff (U.C. Irvine): Well, I have a license plate that has the name of a philosopher on it--Rudolph Carnap. He was [besides being a pioneer in logical positivism] a wonderful person.