Irwin Edman was born in New York City to Jewish parents. He grew up in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, adjacent to Columbia University, with which he was to be affiliated his entire adult life. Edman spent his high-school years at Townsend Harris Hall, a New York high school for superior pupils. He then attended Columbia University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and earned his bachelor's degree in 1917, and his Ph.D. in 1920. During his student years at Columbia he was a member of the Boar's Head Society. He became a professor of philosophy at Columbia, and during the course of his career he rose to serve as head of the philosophy department. He also served as a visiting lecturer at Oxford University, Amherst College, the University of California, and Harvard and Wesleyan Universities. In 1945 the United States Department of State and the Brazilian government sponsored a series of lectures he gave in Rio de Janeiro.
Edman was known for the “charm and clarity” of his writing, and for being an open-minded critic. He was a popular professor and served as a mentor to undergraduate students, notably Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herman Wouk (Columbia class of 1934), who dedicated his first novel to Edman.
He was the brother-in-law of Lester Markel, the longtime Sunday editor of The New York Times.
In addition to writing philosophical works, Irwin Edman was a frequent contributor to literary magazines such as The New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Commentary, and Horizon.
In 1953, Professor Edman was elected vice president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
Irwin Edman published many books on philosophy as well as poetry and some fiction. Some of his works include “Philosopher’s Holiday,” “Richard Kane Looks at Life,” “Four Ways of Philosophy,” "Philosopher's Quest," and “Arts and the Man – An Introduction to Aesthetics.”
He died, of a heart attack, on September 4, 1954, in New York.
Arthur Schopenhauer: The World As Will And Idea
Arts and the man: a short introduction to aesthetics (1939)
Candle in the Dark : A Postscript to Despair by Edman, Irwin
Don Quixote: The Ingenious Man of La Mancha (Introduction)
Ecclesiastes, with an Essay by Irwin Edman; Odyssey Press, New York, 1946
Emerson's Essays, First & Second Series Complete in One Volume
Epictetus. Discourses and Enchiridion. Based on the Translation of Thomas…
Fountainheads of Freedom: The Growth of the Democratic Idea, with Herbert W. Schneider Human Traits and Their Social Significance
John Dewey: his contribution to the American tradition (as editor)
Landmarks for beginners in philosophy
Machiavelli: The Prince (Introduction and Preface) (1954)
Marcus Aurelius and His Times, The Transition from Paganism to…
Philosopher's Holiday (1938)
Philosopher's Quest (1947)
The Mind Of Paul
The Philosophy of Plato. Jowett Translation
The Philosophy of Santayana
The Philosophy of Schopenhauer (1928)
The Uses of Philosophy
The Works of Plato
The World, the Arts and the Artist
Under Whatever Sky (1951)
- "Brief Introduction to the Problems of Philosophy" The New Yorker 25/50 (4 February 1950) : 32
- Chaddock, K (2012). The Multi-Talented Mr.Erskine: Shaping Mass Culture through Great Books and Fine Music. Springer. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- The New York Times, 5 September 1954, page 51
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