Hospers in 1998
|Born||June 9, 1918|
Pella, Iowa, U.S.
|Died||June 12, 2011 (aged 93)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Central College, Iowa|
University of Iowa
John Hospers (June 9, 1918 - June 12, 2011) was an American philosopher and political activist. Hospers was interested in Objectivism, and was once a friend of Ayn Rand, though she later broke with him. In 1972, Hospers became the first presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, and was the only minor party candidate to receive an electoral vote in that year's U.S. presidential election.
John Hospers was born on June 9, 1918, in Pella, Iowa, the son of Dena Helena (Verhey) and John De Gelder Hospers. He graduated from Central College in 1939 before earning an M.A. in English from the University of Iowa in 1942 and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University in 1946. He conducted research, wrote, and taught in areas of philosophy, including aesthetics and ethics. He taught philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Brooklyn College, California State College Los Angeles (1966-1968) and at the University of Southern California, where for many years he was chairman of the philosophy department and professor emeritus.
During the period he taught philosophy at Brooklyn College, Hospers was very interested in Objectivism. He appeared on radio shows with Ayn Rand, and devoted considerable attention to her ideas in his ethics textbook Human Conduct.
According to Rand's biographer, Barbara Branden, Hospers met Rand when she addressed the student body at Brooklyn College. They became friends, and had lengthy philosophical conversations. Rand's discussions with Hospers contributed to her decision to write nonfiction. Hospers read Atlas Shrugged (1957), which he considered an aesthetic triumph. Although Hospers became convinced of the validity of Rand's moral and political views, he disagreed with her about issues of epistemology, the subject of their extensive correspondence. Rand broke with Hospers after he, in his position as moderator, critiqued her address, and she felt he had criticized her talk on "Art and Sense of Life" before the American Society of Aesthetics at Harvard.
In the 1972 U.S. Presidential election, Hospers and Tonie Nathan were the first presidential and vice-presidential nominees, respectively, of the newly formed Libertarian Party. The Libertarian Party was poorly organized and Hospers and Nathan managed to get on the ballot in only two states (Washington and Colorado), receiving 3,674 popular votes.
Hospers and Nathan received one electoral vote from faithless elector Roger MacBride, a Republican from Virginia, resulting in Nathan's becoming the first woman and the first Jew to receive an electoral vote in a United States presidential election.
Hospers' books include:
Hospers was editor of three anthologies, and contributed to books edited by others. He wrote more than 100 articles in various scholarly and popular journals.
"Art and Morality", Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics (JCLA), Vol. 1, No. 1, Summer 1978.