Cohen, Morris Raphael, 1880-1947

Alternative names
Birth 1880-07-25
Death 1947-01-28

Biographical notes:

Philosopher. Graduated from the College of the City of New York, 1900. Ph. D., Harvard, 1906. Instructor in mathematics at the City College of New York, then taught in its Department of Philosophy, 1912-1938. Professor of philosophy, University of Chicago, 1938-1942.

From the description of Papers, 1898-1981. (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 52248106

Correspondence to Lewis Mumford from Morris R. Cohen and his wife, Mary Cohen.

From the description of Letters,1936-1940, to Lewis Mumford. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155867332

Philosopher, professor.

Cohen was an alumnus of City College, Class of 1900, and professor at City College.

From the description of Memorabilia, 1926-1980. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155502335

Morris Raphael Cohen was born in Minsk, Russia, in 1880. The son of Abraham Mordecai and Bessie Farfel Cohen, Morris came to the United States at the age of twelve. His family eventually settled in New York City. In 1895 Morris took the entrance examination for the City College of New York and scored the highest grade. While a student at CCNY Cohen met Thomas Davidson who strongly influenced Cohen's burgeoning liberalism. Davidson founded the progressive Breadwinners' College, where Cohen gained his initial teacher's training.

Morris married Mary Ryshpan in 1906. They had three children, Felix S., Leonora D., and Victor W.

Following Davidson's death in 1900, Cohen helped form the Thomas Davidson Society. Under the auspices of New York's Educational Alliance, the Society opened a night school. Among the supporters were William Harris, Charles Bakewell, Josiah Royce, and Percival Chubb. The public education system assumed control of the school in 1917.

Morris taught briefly in the New York public schools before becoming a mathematics instructor at CCNY. While teaching, Cohen took graduate courses at Columbia University. He left Columbia and CCNY to pursue his Ph.D. in philosophy at Harvard, which he received in 1906. He returned to New York and continued as mathematics instructor, despite his degree in philosophy, until 1912. After six years he transferred to the Philosophy Department. He stayed on at CCNY until 1938, enjoying stays as a visiting professor at Columbia, Yale, Yale Law School, Harvard, Stanford and elsewhere. To accommodate his wish to spend more time writing, Cohen took a position at the University of Chicago, where he carried a light, but influential, teaching load in the Philosophy Department, 1938-1941. Before his death in January, 1947, Cohen published numerous articles and books including Reason and Nature, 1931; Law and the Social Order, 1933; Preface to Logic, 1944; and Faith of a Liberal, 1945. Missing from the papers are drafts of his autobiography, A Dreamer's Journey.

Leonora Cohen Rosenfield, after collecting her father's extensive collection of papers, published in 1948 Morris' biography, Portrait of a Philosopher. Her research materials for the biography and correspondence with many of Morris' colleagues are also represented in the papers.

From the guide to the Cohen, Morris Raphael. Papers, 1898-1981, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)


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