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Kuhns, Richard 1924–

(Richard Francis Kuhns, Jr.)

PERSONAL:

Born May 3, 1924, in Chicago, IL; son of Richard Francis (a lawyer) and Helen Kuhns; married Margaret Portis, June 5, 1944; children: Frederick. Education: Dartmouth College, B.A., 1947; additional study, University of California, Berkeley, 1947-49; Columbia University, Ph.D., 1955.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of Philosophy, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027.

CAREER:

Writer, educator. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, instructor in philosophy, 1949-50; Columbia University, New York, NY, instructor, 1950-54, assistant professor, 1954-60, associate professor, 1960-62, professor of philosophy, beginning 1962, professor emeritus of philosophy. Military service: U.S. Army, Infantry, 1943-46.

MEMBER:

American Philosophical Association.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Distinguished book award from Van Am Society, Columbia University, 1971.

WRITINGS:

The House, the City and the Judge: The Growth of Moral Awareness in the Oresteia, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1962.

(Editor, with Albert Hofstadter) Philosophies of Art and Beauty: Selected Readings in Aesthetics from Plato to Heidegger, Random House (New York, NY), 1964.

Structures of Experience, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1971.

(Editor, with Margaret D. Wilson and Dan W. Brock) Philosophy: An Introduction, Appleton-Century-Crofts (New York, NY), 1972.

(With Robert Belknap) Tradition and Innovation, General Education and the Reintegration of the University, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1977.

Psychoanalytic Theory of Art, A Philosophy of Art on Developmental Principles, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1983.

Tragedy: Contradiction and Repression, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1991.

(Contributor) Constitutional Criminal Procedure: An Examination of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, and Related Areas, Little Brown (Boston, MA), 1991.

(Editor) 1991 Federal Rules of Evidence: With Legislative History and Case Supplement, Including Recent Supreme Court Decisions, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1991.

(Contributor) Evidence: Text, Cases, and Problems, Aspen Law & Business (New York, NY), 1997.

Decameron and the Philosophy of Storytelling: Author as Midwife and Pimp, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor of articles to journals, including Social Research, New Literary History, Monist, Idealistic Studies, Poetik und Hermeneutik, and others.

SIDELIGHTS:

A professor emeritus of philosophy at Columbia University, Richard Kuhns is also a prolific writer on topics as diverse as aesthetics, philosophy, law, psychoanalysis, and literature. Among his well-conceived and often well-received books is the 1983 Psychoanalytic Theory of Art, A Philosophy of Art on Developmental Principles, an "original and concise book," according to Cynthia Freeland, writing in the Psychoanalytic Review. Here Kuhns examines the works of Sigmund Freud in order to, as Freeland further explained, "articulate a contemporary psychoanalytic theory of interpretation generally." In his 1991 book, Tragedy: Contradiction and Repression, something of a companion piece to the Psychoanalytic Theory of Art, A Philosophy of Art on Developmental Principles, Kuhns takes readers through a reading of literature from Greek, Elizabethan English, and German in a work written "engagingly in a warm, associative, and occasionally poetic style," as Psychoanalytic Review contributor Patrick Mahony noted. Olga McDonald Meidner, however, writing in the British Journal of Aesthetics, was less positive about Kuhn's Tragedy, noting that she found it "difficult to see for whom this book is intended." Meidner went to explain: "Few psychoanalysts would be interested in the literary texts Kuhns treats in such detail, … [while] he makes no effort to render his approach acceptable or even intelligible to literary theorists." Meidner did allow, though, that Kuhns's book "is certainly original."

In his 2005 title, Decameron and the Philosophy of Storytelling: Author as Midwife and Pimp, Kuhns attempts a reinterpretation of Giovanni Boccaccio's mid-fourteenth-century work of connected tales, The Decameron. The one hundred tales of that book are told by a collection of seven women and three men who flee plague-ridden Florence for a remote villa. Each of the ten people tells a story on ten consecutive days—stories noted for their earthy, sometimes bawdy character. Kuhns dissects these old tales, searching for new meanings. One of Kuhns's conclusions, contested by others, is that the author, Boccaccio, was anti-Christian rather than merely anti-clerical. Writing in the Renaissance Quarterly, Tobias Foster Gittes concluded: "Only a true curmudgeon could fail to appreciate the enthusiasm and vigor of Kuhns's prose, delighting in Kuhns's obvious delight in Boccaccio; only a reader who shares Kuhns's enthusiasm for esoteric interpretations is likely to accept many of his conclusions."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

British Journal of Aesthetics, January 1, 1993, Olga McDonald Meidner, review of Tragedy: Contradiction and Repression, p. 87.

Psychoanalytic Review, Volume 75, 1988, Cynthia Freeland, review of Psychoanalytic Theory of Art, A Philosophy of Art on Developmental Principles, pp. 482-485; Volume 80, 1993, Patrick Mahony, review of Tragedy, pp. 160-163.

Renaissance Quarterly, March 22, 2006, Tobias Foster Gittes, review of Decameron and the Philosophy of Storytelling: Author as Midwife and Pimp, p. 135.

Kuhns, Richard 1924–

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