Sidney Morgenbesser, 1921-2004

MorgenbesserI was deeply saddened to find out today that Sidney Morgenbesser had died on Sunday morning. Services were held yesterday.

Sidney Morgenbesser was a legend in American philosophy. Having published very little, he nonetheless influenced many of the best philosophical minds of the day. He held the John Dewey Chair in Philiosophy at Columbia for many years. Arthur Danto once called him the “conscience of American philosophy”. Morgenbesser was deeply kind, occassionally irascible, always witty (see here check out the radio obituary with Arthur Danto and Leon Botstein, here, here, and here), and intensely brilliant. The philosopher Robert Nozick once said that he had gotten his Ph.D. in Morgenbesser. I know that there are many who feel a similar sentiment.

Those of us at 3 quarks daily, who did have the fortune of knowing Morgenbesser during our grad school days and of having been touched by his kind heart and keen mind, will miss him dearly.

Update: The New York Times has an obituary today, August 4.