Ruth Nanda Anshen

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Ruth Nanda Anshen
Born(1900-06-14)June 14, 1900
DiedDecember 2, 2003(2003-12-02) (aged 103)
Alma materBoston University
OccupationEditor, Philosopher

Ruth Nanda Anshen (June 14, 1900 – December 2, 2003) was an American philosopher, author and editor. She was the author of several books including The Anatomy of Evil, Biography of An Idea, Morals Equals Manners and The Mystery of Consciousness: A Prescription for Human Survival.


Anshen was born on June 14, 1900 in Lynn, Massachusetts to Jewish Russian immigrants.[1] She studied at Boston University under Alfred North Whitehead. During her education, she developed a desire to unite scholars from all over the world from varying fields. In 1941, she put together the Science of Culture Series, hoping to develop a "unitary principle under which there could be subsumed and evaluated the nature of man and the nature of life, the relationship of knowledge to life." This series continued on for two decades and included Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Thomas Mann, and Whitehead on its board of editors.

She was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of London, a member of the American Philosophical Association, the History of Science Society, the International Philosophical Society and the Metaphysical Society of America. In 1958, she established the Anshen-Columbia University Seminars on the Nature of Man. Anshen died at age 103.[1]

In the 1990s the Council for the Anshen Transdisciplinary Lectureships in Art, Science and the Philosophy of Culture included Noam Chomsky, Fred Hoyle, Paul O. Kristeller, Edith Porada, Meyer Schapiro, Hugh Thomas, John A. Wheeler, and C. N. Yang.[2]


Anshen was the editor of several series of books, including the World Perspectives Series, published by Harper & Row, of which two volumes were by Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving (Volume 9)[3] and To Have or to Be? (Volume 50). Another notable was Deschooling Society (Volume 44) by Ivan Illich.[4] She also edited the Religious Perspectives Series, published by Harper & Row, Credo Perspectives Series, published by Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, The Perspectives in Humanism Series, published by World Publishing Company, The Tree of Life Series published by Seabury Press, and The Convergence Series published by Columbia University Press.

Selected works[edit]

  • Freedom: Its Meaning (1940)
  • Beyond Victory (1943)
  • The Family: Its Function and Destiny (1949)
  • Moral Principles of Action: Man's Ethical Imperative (1952)
  • Language : an enquiry into its meaning and function (1957)
  • The Reality of the Devil: The Evil in Man (1974)
  • The Anatomy of Evil (1985), Revised edition of The Reality of the Devil: Evil in Man (1974)
  • Biography of An Idea (1986)
  • Morals Equals Manners (1992)
  • The Mystery of Consciousness: A Prescription for Human Survival (1994)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wyckoff, Susan (2009). "Ruth Nanda Anshen - 1900 – 2003". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  2. ^ "Apri 17, 1993 letter to Dr. Griffiths from Ruth Nanda Anshen, Portion of Faculty file of Hermann Weyl conntaining correspondence from 1946 to 1993, Institute for Advanced Study Digital Collections".
  3. ^ The Art of Loving: an enquiry into the nature of love, Erich Fromm, Harper & Brothers, 1956
  4. ^ Deschooling Society, Ivan Illich, Harper & Row, 1971

External links[edit]