A good friend of mine monitors all things Josiah Royce. She passed along this tidbit earlier today (from here):
[California Governor Jerry] Brown has more immediate concerns, including his annual budget proposal and State of the State address in January.
In preparation for the latter Brown said he is reading Josiah Royce, a philosopher who was born in Grass Valley in the 1800s and who Brown said “had something called the philosophy of loyalty.”
Brown said he hasn’t decided if Royce or his ideas about loyalty will make it into the address, but he said, “I’m thinking about whether that can apply to California … You’ve got to have a sense that it’s more important than your own particular interest.”
This caused me to wonder how much we know about the links between American philosophers and politicians as a general class, past and present. We have discussed here before, on the prompt of Ben Alpers, what he called “White House Intellectuals” and “Campaign Intellectuals.” I followed up Ben’s White House intellectual post with this discussion of historians and the White House, and Ben added to that discussion. Furthermore, in his September 2010 post on campaign intellectuals, Ben noted all the blog discussions about Obama’s status as an intellectual (all prompted in the fall of 2010 by James Kloppenberg’s book, Reading Obama, but preceded in April 2010 in post by me about Tevi Troy’s assessment of President Obama in relation to Troy’s 2003 book, Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters, or Technicians?).*
But what do we know about philosophers, specifically, and their connection to all kinds of politicians—or even prominent political appointments? We now know that Jerry Brown consults (or will consult) with Josiah Royce on loyalty. But what about other politicians on Kant and duty, or on Kant in relation to world peace and government? How about Dewey and educational policy? I know, for instance, that Mortimer Adler offered his services to Walter Mondale in relation to countering Reagan era educational policy (p. 178 in my book). And, courtesy of Louis Menand, I’m guessing that every intellectual historian knows that Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was connected to William James and Charles Sanders Peirce via their “Metaphysical Club” at Harvard University.
Was Richard Rorty ever consulted by Ted Kennedy or Jimmy Carter? Or John Rawls or Michael Walzer? Did Bobbie Kennedy ever reach out to Herbert Marcuse or C. Wright Mills? The possible connections here are endless. – TL
* My post about Tevi Troy was prompted by this National Affairs article, authored by him.