The Eclipse and Rebirth of American Philosophical Pluralism: a History Lesson about His-tory


  • Armen T. MARSOOBIAN Southern Connecticut State University (New Haven, USA)



history of philosophy, pluralism, pedagogy, Columbia University, G. W. F. Hegel, John Herman Randall, Jr., Justus Buchler, Joseph P. Fell


The 1950s and `60s saw a struggle in American academic philosophy between a philosophical tradition that maintained a central role for the history of philosophy along with an openness to diverse philosophical methods and an ascendant analytic approach that marginalized its own history and restricted the scope of philosophy to self-generated philosophical problems. Columbia University in this period, while marked by these tensions, still provided a fertile ground for generating teacher-philosophers whose pedagogy reflected a deep and serious respect for history and philosophical pluralism. John Herman Randall Jr. and Justus Buchler were two of the central figures who fostered such an environment in Columbia’s Philosophy Department. Joseph P. Fell was a product of this environment and brought these traits to his classroom at Bucknell University. Playing off of Hegel’s insights into history, this essay will reflect upon the philosophies of Randall and Buchler with an eye toward pedagogy, especially as recalled in classes taught by Fell. The subtext of these reflections will provide a commentary on trends within academic philosophy in America over the last 40 years.


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Author Biography

Armen T. MARSOOBIAN, Southern Connecticut State University (New Haven, USA)

Professor of Philosophy and Chairperson of the Philosophy Department
at Southern Connecticut State University (New Haven,


Buchler, J. (1979). Toward a General Theory of Human Judgment (2nd revised ed.). New York: Dover Publications.
Class lecture, Philosophy 101B, Bucknell University, September 9, 1970.
Hegel, G.W.F. (1977) The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's System of Philosophy, (Trans-lation of Differenz des Fichte'schen und Schelling'schen Systems der Philosophie) (H. S. Harris & W. Cerf Trans.). Albany: SUNY Press.
Quine, V.W. (Oct., 1953). Mr. Strawson on Logical Theory, Mind, Vol. 62, No. 248.
Randall, J.H. Jr. (1958), Nature and Historical Experience: Essays in Naturalism and in the Theory of History, New York: Columbia University Press. The essay, “Historical Naturalism” originally published in 1935.
Randall, J.H. Jr. (1962-65), The Career of Philosophy. Vol. 1 & 2. New York: Columbia University Press.




How to Cite

MARSOOBIAN, A. T. (2016). The Eclipse and Rebirth of American Philosophical Pluralism: a History Lesson about His-tory. WISDOM, 7(2), 142–147.