Who is Hilary Putnam?June 25, 2021
He is known for his “semantic externality” view, which argues that meaning is not a purely mental entity and concerns external reality. Putman’s antireductionist philosophy of mind encompasses the permanence of truth, the fact that truth and knowledge are objective. In the following years, he turned to the moral dimensions of epistemology and metaphysics and to the moral achievements of philosophy in general.
Putnam studied mathematics and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and received a master’s degree in philosophy from Harvard and California Universities. He wrote a doctoral thesis on the concept of probability at the University of California. He has taught philosophy at Northwestern, Princeton, Massachusetts, and Harvard Universities.
Putnam, who became interested in mathematical logic while he was working at Princeton University, worked on the “Diophantine equation”, one of the 23 unsolved problems in mathematics defined by David Hilbert in 1900. Evidence that the problem is unsolvable was put forward by Putnam, Martin Davis, and Julia Robinson in 1961, and this claim was confirmed by Yuri Matiyasevich in 1970.
Putnam emphasized the need to revive the traditional role of philosophy as guiding, organizing and inspiring human life. Among his major works are Realism with the Human Face (1990), Words and Life (1994), Ethics Without Ontology (2004), Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life: Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein (2008), and Philosophy in the Age of Science: Physics, Mathematics. and Skepticism (2012), Putman emphasized the understanding of moral commitment to objective reality.
In the 1960s, Putnam participated in anti-war movements that opposed US involvement in the Vietnam War. He was active with Democratic Society (SDS) students and the Progressive Workers Party, a Maoist group; however, in the early 1970s it moved away from leftist political ideology. The thinker, who is also interested in Jewish heritage, passed away in 2016.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook