Harry Frankfurt Selected as ACLS 2017 Haskins Lecturer
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Posted by: Mike Morris
The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) has selected longtime APA member Harry Frankfurt as the 2017 Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecturer. Professor Frankfurt served as president of the APA’s Eastern Division in 1991–1992. He is professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University, where he taught from 1990 to 2002, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Haskins Lecturers are asked “to reflect on a lifetime of work as a scholar and an institution builder, on the motives, the chance determinations, the satisfactions (and dissatisfactions) of the life of learning, to explore through one’s own life the larger, institutional life of scholarship.”
Cheshire Calhoun, chair of the APA’s board of officers, says of Frankfurt,
One of the striking features of Frankfurt is his ability both to do serious, rigorous philosophy while at the same time never straying from topics that matter to our lives. Harry Frankfurt’s work is among the most deeply humane philosophical works, concerned with how things matter to beings like us, with why it matters that we care wholeheartedly and deeply about some things, and with what should matter but sometimes doesn’t. He is largely to be credited with the emergence of serious philosophical work on that topic that is so often jokingly attributed to philosophers—the meaning of life.
The APA’s delegate to the ACLS, Henry Richardson, said the following:
The learned societies that are the members of the ACLS nominate candidate Haskins Lecturers. Candidates of course must be at the top of their field; but somehow, too, the interdisciplinary jury must come to really want to hear the story of the candidate’s life in scholarship. In Harry Frankfurt’s case, this didn’t take much work. That he had twice held Jon Stewart rapt by insisting on actually thinking was icing on the cake. What is really most impressive about Frankfurt is his seriousness about dispensing with needless jargon in order to speak with courage and wit about what really matters.
Professor Frankfurt is the first philosopher to be named Haskins Lecturer since 1990 and was nominated for the lecture by the APA. He will deliver the Haskins Lecture at the 2017 ACLS meeting in Baltimore, MD.