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White, Morton Gabriel


WHITE, MORTON GABRIEL (1917– ), U.S. philosopher. Born in New York, White received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1942. He taught physics at City College, Columbia, and at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1948 he joined the staff at Harvard as professor of philosophy, where he taught until 1970. From 1954 to 1957 he served as chairman of the philosophy department. From 1970 to 1987 he was a professor at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study. After retiring from teaching, he was named philosophy and intellectual history professor emeritus at the institute's School of Historical Studies.

White's main philosophical contributions are in the areas of epistemology and social and political philosophy. Such works as The Origin of Dewey's Instrumentalism (1943) and Social Thought in America (1949) reveal the influence of American pragmatism in his thought. White also wrote on the paradox of analysis, a dilemma which holds that all analysis is either trivial or false, and on the analytic-synthetic distinction. In his paper "The Analytic and the Synthetic: An Untenable Dualism" in John Dewey: Philosopher of Science and Freedom (ed. by S. Hook, 1950), White contends that the distinction is one of degree and not one of kind, as traditional philosophers maintain.

Among his other important publications are Toward Reunion in Philosophy (1956); Religion, Politics and the Higher Learning (1959); The Intellectual vs. the City (with L. White, 1962); Foundations of Historical Knowledge (1965); Science and Sentiment in America (1972); The Question of Free Will (1993); his autobiography, A Philosopher's Story (1999); A Philosophy of Culture (2002); and From a Philosophical Point of View (2004).

[Arthur Stroll /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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