Philosopher John Hospers turns 90 in June

From Barbara Branden:

Dear Friends,

Philosopher John Hospers will celebrate his 90th birthday in June. He continues to be, as he always has been, a remarkable and admirable man, whom his friends and acquaintances are privileged to know. He moves more slowly now, and with a cane, but his mind moves as quickly and lightly as ever. He and I often talk about Ayn Rand and the good days of our relationships with her. With our friend, Jim Kilbourne, we spend regular evenings together having dinner and listening to music, from Mario Lanza to Gustav Mahler. The three of us talk politics a bit, but mostly esthetics, discussing the reasons of our remarkably similar musical tastes. And with Jim and other friends we watch our favorite old movies, introducing special young friends to such films as “Brief Encounter.”

There will be a small, private birthday party for John on June 7. I know that many of you — friends, acquaintances, and those who know him only by reputation — would like to offer John your congratulations on this very special birthday. Please send your congratulations and good wishes, as soon as possible, to my email address: Barbara (at) Brandenmail.com. I’m sure John will be very pleased to have them, and they will be read aloud at the party.

Barbara

About John Hospers, from the new web site established to honor him, JohnHospers.com:

John Hospers has two significant “firsts” by his name: he was the first presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, and his book Libertarianism was one of the first full-length studies of the modern libertarian philosophy.

Born in a small town near Des Moines, Iowa, Hospers grew up speaking Dutch as a first language. In college, Hospers admired philosophers David Hume, John Stuart Mill, Plato, and Aristotle. He went on to earn a Master’s degree in literature from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University.

In 1961, Hospers was introduced to novelist Ayn Rand. The meeting blossomed into friendship, and the two spent many evenings in philosophical conversation. Hospers later recalled those talks as “among the most intellectually exhilarating of my life.” [John described those talks in a series of essays in Liberty.] In 1971, Hospers published Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow, a book-length study of the modern philosophy of liberty…. It is widely considered to be one of the defining books of the libertarian movement.

At the Libertarian Party’s inaugural national convention in Denver, Colorado in 1972, Hospers was invited to write the party’s Statement of Principles. Later, at the same convention, he was nominated to be its first presidential candidate. “I was a little bit thrilled, and a little bit terrorized” about winning the nomination, he wrote laterâ?¦ “One day I was a ccollege professor, and the next day a candidate for the nation’s highest office.” With vice presidential candidate Tonie Nathan, the Libertarian ticket appeared on two state ballots and won 3,907 votes. What had started out as a political footnote ended up in history textbooks when Hospers and Nathan won one Electoral College vote (from renegade Richard Nixon elector Roger MacBride).

After his presidential bid, Hospers returned to the University of Southern California’s philosophy department, where he taught courses in ethics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of law. Since his retirement in 1988, he has served as USC’s professor emeritus of philosophy.

The author of over 100 articles, Hospers also wrote Meaning and Truth in the Arts (1967), Introductory Readings in Aesthetics (1969), Artistic Expression (1971), Understanding the Arts (1982), Law and the Market (1985), Human Conduct: Problems of Ethics (1995), and An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, Fourth Edition (1996). In addition, he served as a Senior Editor for Liberty magazine, editor of The Personalist, and was a film reviewer for Reason (1974-1982).

In later years, Hospers served on the honorary advisory board of the Republican Liberty Caucus. In 2002, an hour-long video about his life, work, and philosophy was released by the Liberty Fund of Indianapolis as part of its Classics of Liberty series.

–Bill Winter

In a review of Libertarianism, Robert D. Kephart, then publisher of Human Events, wrote: “His magnificent work offers a true intellectual foundation for all those who profess to be advocates of, or objective about, personal, political, and economic freedom.”

After thirty-five years, Libertarianism has been reissued, and is now available to a new generation of readers. Autographed copies are available from Laissez-Faire Books.