Hook, Sidney, 1902-1989

Alternative names
Birth 1902-12-20
Death 1989-07-12

Biographical notes:

American philosopher, professor, and writer.

From the description of Letter, 1984 May 20, Wardsboro, Vt., to Edward Weber, Ann Arbor, Mich. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34363838

American philosopher and author; founding member, Congress for Cultural Freedom, 1950.

From the description of Sidney Hook papers, 1902-2002. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754872376

Senior fellow at the Hoover Institute.

From the description of Correspondence with Chaim Potok, 1986. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 704680750

Biographical Note

  • 1902, Dec. 20: Born, New York City
  • 1927: Ph.D., Columbia University Author, The Metaphysics of Pragmatism
  • 1927 - 1969 : Professor of Philosophy, Washington Square College, New York University
  • 1933: Author, Towards the Understanding of Karl Marx
  • 1936: Author, From Hegel to Marx
  • 1939: Author, John Dewey: An Intellectual Portrait
  • 1940: Author, Reason, Social Myths and Democracy
  • 1943: Author, The Hero in History
  • 1946: Author, Education for Modern Man
  • 1948 - 1969 : Head, All-University Department of Philosophy, New York University
  • 1953: Author, Heresy, Yes, Conspiracy, No
  • 1955: Author, Marx and the Marxists
  • 1957: Author, Common Sense and the Fifth Amendment
  • 1959: Author, Political Power and Personal Freedom
  • 1961: Author, The Quest for Being
  • 1962: Author, The Paradoxes of Freedom
  • 1967: Author, Religion in a Free Society
  • 1970: Author, Academic Freedom and Academic Anarchy
  • 1973: Author, Education and the Taming of Power
  • 1973 - 1989 : Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace
  • 1974: Author, Pragmatism and the Tragic Sense of Life
  • 1975: Author, Revolution, Reform and Social Justice
  • 1980: Author, Philosophy and Public Policy
  • 1983: Author, Marxism and Beyond
  • 1987: Author, Out of Step: An Unquiet Life in the Twentieth Century
  • 1989, July 12: Died, Stanford, California
  • 1990: Author, Convictions (published posthumously)

From the guide to the Sidney Hook papers, 1902-2002, (Hoover Institution Archives)

The philosopher, author and social critic Sidney Hook was an active participant in many of the important political and intellectual debates of the twentieth century. Born in Brooklyn in 1902, he graduated from City College in 1923. At Columbia University, where he was a disciple of the pragmatist John Dewey, he earned a master's degree in 1926 and a PhD the following year. He went on to join the faculty of New York University in 1927, remaining there as Chairman of the Philosophy Department until his retirement in 1969. From 1973 until his death in 1989, he was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Although drawn to Marxism and the Soviet Union in the 1920s, he was one of the first of the New York Marxists to break with the Communist Party and with Stalin, becoming known for his consistent anti-Communist stance. In 1950, he joined with others to create the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an organization partly funded by the Central Intelligence Agency, to counter Communist controlled cultural groups. He was generally seen as a conservative in foreign affairs, but considered himself a socialist in domestic affairs.

Hook's philosophy was based on pragmatism, secularism and rationalism. He wrote dozens of books and hundreds of articles, taught a course on the philosophy of democracy at NYU and influenced the thinking of several generations of teachers, philosophers and political figures. His life is recounted in an autobiography, Out of Step: An Unquiet Life in the 20th Century, published in 1987.

A number of items in this collection concern the case of Harry Slochower who was called, in 1952, before the Internal Security Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate. He invoked the Fifth Amendment when asked about Communist associations and was dismissed from his position as a professor of German and comparative literature at Brooklyn College. In 1956 he appealed to the Supreme Court and was reinstated based on a ruling that he had been denied due process of law. He was again suspended on charges that he had made false statements under oath but, before the actual trial, he resigned and spent the rest of his life in the practice of psychoanalysis. (In 1957, Sidney Hook published Common Sense and the Fifth Amendment which discusses the implications of the Fifth Amendment in cases of teacher dismissal for alleged Communist activities.)

From the guide to the Sidney Hook Papers, 1929-1960, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)


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  • Student movements
  • Communism--United States
  • Congress for Cultural Freedom
  • Radio journalism
  • Academic freedom--United States
  • Student movements--United States
  • Philosophy
  • Radio broadcasting policy
  • Liberty
  • Dewey, John, 1859-1952
  • Academic freedom--United States--History--20th century
  • Anti-communist movements
  • Communist trials--United States
  • Philosophy, Marxist
  • Education
  • Communism
  • Socialism
  • Academic freedom
  • Communism in education
  • Affirmative action programs
  • Dialectical materialism


  • Philosophers--United States


  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)