10 Famous Philosophers in Words and Images

The Chron­i­cle of High­er Edu­ca­tion has post­ed a nice set of por­traits called “Gallery of Minds,” fea­tur­ing images of 10 world-famous philoso­phers, includ­ing Richard RortyDavid Chalmers, and renowned philoso­pher and art crit­ic Arthur Dan­to, who also wrote a com­pelling intro­duc­tion. Dan­to focus­es on the visu­al artistry of the series’ pho­tog­ra­ph­er Steve Pyke, a long-time staff mem­ber at the New York­er, but we found the great thinkers’ own state­ments — their answers to the “why” of their cho­sen pur­suits — equal­ly, if not more, com­pelling. Here is MIT’s fem­i­nist meta­physi­cian Sal­ly Haslinger:

Giv­en the amount of suf­fer­ing and injus­tice in the world, I flip-flop between think­ing that doing phi­los­o­phy is a com­plete lux­u­ry and that it is an absolute neces­si­ty. The idea that it is some­thing in between strikes me as a dodge.

And Robin Jesh­ion, best known for a the­o­ry of sin­gu­lar thought which she calls Cog­ni­tivism, has this to say:

Phi­los­o­phy’s dis­tin­guish­ing val­ue? For me, it resides not so much in the big ques­tions’ mul­ti­far­i­ous answers, them­selves, nor, alas, in wis­dom attained through the exact­ing process of answer­ing them, but rather in how it invari­ably reminds us how lit­tle we real­ly do know. Phi­los­o­phy is, or should be, hum­bling — and is, for this, ennobling.

Final­ly, per­haps our favorite ‘mis­sion state­ment,’ from Jer­ry Fodor, the cog­ni­tive sci­en­tist who has worked out the­o­ries on the archi­tec­ture of the mind:

To the best of my rec­ol­lec­tion, I became a philoso­pher because my par­ents want­ed me to be a lawyer. It seems to me, in ret­ro­spect, that there was much to be said for their sug­ges­tion.

via @brainpicker

Relat­ed Con­tent:

275 Cul­tur­al Icons: Great Artists, Writ­ers & Thinkers in Their Own Words

Down­load Free Cours­es from Famous Philoso­phers: From Bertrand Rus­sell to Michel Fou­cault


Sheer­ly Avni is a San Fran­cis­co-based arts and cul­ture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Week­ly, Moth­er Jones, and many oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low her on twit­ter at @sheerly.

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