Nelson Goodman

Biography of Nelson Goodman

Henry Nelson Goodman (7 August 1906, Somerville, Massachusetts – 25 November 1998, Needham, Massachusetts) was an American philosopher, known for his work on counterfactuals, mereology, the problem of induction, irrealism and aesthetics.

Goodman graduated from Harvard University, A.B., magna cum laude (1928). During the 1930s, he ran an art gallery in Boston, Massachusetts while studying for a Harvard Ph.D. in philosophy, which he completed in 1941. His experience as an art dealer helps explain his later turn towards aesthetics, where he became better known than in logic and analytic philosophy. During World War II, he served in the US Army.

He taught at the University of Pennsylvania, 1946–1964, where his students included Noam Chomsky, Sydney Morgenbesser, Stephen Stich, and Hilary Putnam. He left Penn because he was not granted the control he desired over the philosophy department. He was a research fellow at the Harvard Center for Cognitive Studies from 1962 to 1963 and was a professor at several universities from 1964 to 1967, before being appointed Professor of Philosophy at Harvard in 1968.

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