A few weeks back (I have been preoccupied with many things), the announcement of the death of the great philosopher Hilary Putnam, who was one of my teachers at Princeton and later became an academic friend. From the NYT on 3/18/16, “Hilary Putnam, Giant of Modern Philosophy, Dies at 89” by Bruce Weber, which begins:
Hilary Putnam, a Harvard philosopher whose influence ranged widely across many fields of thought, including mathematical logic, philosophy of mind and language, epistemology and metaphysics, died on March 13 at his home in Arlington, Mass. He was 89.
In the world of contemporary philosophers, Professor Putnam was known for the breadth of his thinking, the vividness of his provocative arguments, and his penchant for self-questioning and willingness to change his mind.
In a field of inquiry characterized by elusive concepts, dizzying “isms” and subtle taxonomies, philosophers are in continual battle to resist simplification. Infinite, or at least enormous, complexity is the nature of things, Professor Putnam argued, writing that “any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell belongs in one.”