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Must Philosophers Disagree?

Introducing a new series on great thinkers of the present as featured in the Library of Living Philosophers.

‘Must Philosophers Disagree?’ is the title of an essay in which F.C.S. Schiller blamed “the curious etiquette which apparently taboos the asking of questions about a philosopher’s meaning while he is alive” for impeding a productive interchange of ideas between great thinkers. The “indeterminable controversies which fill the histories of philosophy”, thus Schiller, “could have been ended at once by asking the living philosophers a few searching questions.”

To do just this, Paul Arthur Schlipp founded the ‘Library of Living Philosophers’ in 1938. The project is designed to publish a volume focussing on one of the greatest philosophers of our time at more or less regular intervals. Past volumes have featured a variety of thinkers, such as Dewey, Russell, Cassirer, Radhakrishnan, Buber, Popper and Sartre. Each volume contains an intellectual autobiography by the thinker him-? or herself, or an authorised biography, a number of critical and interpretative essays written by eminent experts on the philosopher’s thought, as well as his or her replies to them. Since 1979 the Library of Living Philosophers has been under the sponsorship of Southern Illinois University.

In the next few issues we will introduce living philosophers featured in existing or projected volumes of the series. We think that this may be one good way of examining the miscellany of different approaches to philosophy today.

(‘Must Philosophers Disagree?’ can be found in Must Philosophers Disagree?, by F.C.S. Schiller, London: Macmillan, 1934. For more information on the Library of Living Philosophers contact Professor Lewis E. Hahn via http://www.siu.edu/~philos/llp/general.html.)

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