Weiss, Paul

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WEISS, PAUL (1901–2002), U.S. philosopher. Weiss was born in New York and studied under Morris Raphael *Cohen. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1929, where he studied with philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. He lectured for a year at Harvard and Radcliffe and then taught at Bryn Mawr. Weiss began as a logician and later went into metaphysics, art, and aesthetics. In 1946 he was the first Jew to be appointed to the faculty of the undergraduate college at Yale, and from 1963 he was professor until he retired in 1969 as professor emeritus. In 1947 he founded the Metaphysical Society of America and its academic journal The Review of Metaphysics, which he edited until 1964. Through his teaching and writing Weiss was influential in the revival of interest in metaphysics in the United States and played an important role in the Peirce Society and the Metaphysical Society of America. Together with Charles Hartshorne he edited The Collected Papers of C.S. Peirce. He was active in Jewish affairs.

After his retirement from Yale, Weiss began to challenge the issue of age discrimination. He was offered a chair at Fordham University, but it was later revoked because he was too old (69). Weiss sued the university in 1971 for age discrimination but lost the controversial $1 million suit. Again, after having taught for many years as the Heffer Visiting Professor of Philosophy of Catholic University in Washington, he discovered that the university's refusal to renew his contract was due to his advanced age. After an official inquiry into the matter by the Equal Opportunity Commission, the university reinstated him for two more years, after which he retired. Weiss was elected to the Library of Living Philosophers, which published The Philosophy of Paul Weiss in 1995 as part of a series of volumes devoted to influential philosophers.

The man who staunchly fought against age discrimination lived to be 101.

Weiss's major works include Reality (1938); Nature and Man (1947); Man's Freedom (1950); Modes of Being (1958); Nine Basic Arts; and The World of Art (both 1961); Religion and Art (1964); The God We Seek (1964); Making of Men (1967); First Considerations (1977); You, I, and the Others (1980); Privacy (1983); Toward a Perfected State (1986); Being and Other Realities (1995); Emphatics (2000); and Surrogates (2002).


I. Lieb (ed.), Experience, Existence, and the Good: Essays in Honor of Paul Weiss (1961); T. Krettek (ed.), Creativity and Common Sense: Essays in Honor of Paul Weiss (1987).

[Richard H. Popkin /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]