Saul Kripke

Saul Kripke faculty photo

Widely regarded as both a brilliant mathematical logician and one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century, Saul Kripke (November 1940 - September 2022) began a series of papers that transformed modal logic—the logic of necessity and possibility—while still a high school student in Omaha, Nebraska. He lectured on logic to graduate students at MIT when still a Harvard undergraduate, and was elected to the Harvard Society of Fellows upon graduation. In the mid-1960s, Kripke began presenting his revolutionary theories of reference at various institutions, culminating in lectures delivered in January 1970, subsequently transcribed and published as Naming and Necessity. This work, which was canonical almost upon publication, sparked a veritable industry of philosophical commentary and criticism, as did subsequent publications on Wittgenstein, the theory of truth, the semantics of belief reports, and other areas.
In 2001, Kripke was awarded the Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy by the Swedish Academy of Sciences, which is the equivalent in philosophy to the Nobel Prize. Before coming to the Graduate Center in 2002, he taught at Rockefeller University and Princeton University, where he is emeritus professor; he has held visiting posts at Oxford, UCLA, and Cornell, among other institutions. His Philosophical Troubles was published in 2011, followed in 2013 by the publication of Reference and Existence, his legendary John Locke Lectures, delivered at Oxford University in 1973.