The son of a Russian born father and a Viennese born mother, he grew up with the sounds of German, Russian, and Yiddish in his ears. He recalls in his memoirs that one of his friends, the son of a Communist, tried to convince their history teacher, a Norman Thomas socialist, to attend a Communist meeting. Nathan Glazer arrived at City in , the year Krader graduated. As a high school student, Krader evinced a streak of cultural and intellectual sophistication and precocity rare among secondary school students, even then. He recalled: B.

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The son of a Russian born father and a Viennese born mother, he grew up with the sounds of German, Russian, and Yiddish in his ears. He recalls in his memoirs that one of his friends, the son of a Communist, tried to convince their history teacher, a Norman Thomas socialist, to attend a Communist meeting. Nathan Glazer arrived at City in , the year Krader graduated.

As a high school student, Krader evinced a streak of cultural and intellectual sophistication and precocity rare among secondary school students, even then. He recalled: B. But we disagreed over the tempo of the third movement. My criticism of Toscanini was that he took it too fast. However, Krader was attracted to CCNY on account of its general non-Communist socialist leanings and by the reputation of Morris Raphael Cohen: Between anthropology, communism and Columbia on the one hand, and philosophy, generalized socialist leanings, and City College, on the other, I chose the latter, and I never regretted the choice.

The History of My Times. Although his estimation of Cohen and his influence on him was generally positive, he recognized that Cohen was a complicated personality who was feared by his students toward whom he often acted as an intellectual bully and concluded: Nevertheless, Cohen was an enlightened spirit who had proved that by intellect alone one could rise to the top of the profession, and on balance I feel that it was an excellent thing to have studied with him.

In addition to studying logic and the philosophy of science with Cohen, Krader studied Aristotle and ancient Greek philosophy with Abe Edel, modern philosophy, especially the ideas of Leibniz, C. Krader recalled his occasional participation in alcove one in the following vignette from his memoirs: The lunchroom at the main building of CCNY was divided into alcoves, the second being coopted by the communists, the first by the non-communist left, as socialists, Trotskyists, anarchists and others; some five alcoves down was the place of the ping pong players; there was no special alcove for the philosophers, who might be found in alcove one, two, five, seven, or any others; truth to tell, there were not many of them.

The main building itself was a horrible example of black college gothic, housing the humanities and the sciences, including both natural and social sciences, as well as the administration of the college….

When I went to City, I avoided the Communists in alcove two, and if I had any place to go, it was to alcove one. I had no special allegiance to any of the sub groups within their ranks, nor did I have much to do with the activities of that alcove in general.

University of Chicago Krader followed Cohen to the University of Chicago, where he met, and for a short time, came under the influence of Rudolph Carnap, an influential member of the Vienna Circle and one of the leading logicians of his day. Krader once mentioned he had briefly shared accommodations with Kenneth Arrow, a future Nobel laureate from City and another fellow student of logic at CCNY, who also went to study with Carnap around the same time.

Carnap wanted me to write on Husserl and Meinong, but I was dubious of the value of logical positivism, for it was reductionistic and simplistic, for the doctrine of unified science that Carnap and others expounded was superficial and of little worth. At the same time, the Thomist, M. Adler, taught reductionism of another kind, making our sociology to be merely a branch of psychology; this all was word play, without substantive scientific value.

Niels Bohr had said that anyone who was not shocked at quantum physics did not understand it. I returned to City College because, on a personal plane, I was put off by the trade-school atmosphere at the University of Chicago. For a comprehensive study of the Russell affair, see Weidlich, At City Krader worked with Tarski, helping him translate his Introduction to Logic from Polish into English, for which Tarski thanked him in the introduction to the English language edition.

With this strong background in the history of philosophy, the awarding of the Ketchum prize along with his work with Carnap, and the public acknowledgement of his assistance to Tarski, Krader could expect a glorious career in philosophy, and mathematical logic.

But he did not pursue this course for a number of reasons. Merchant Marine, where he served on the ultra dangerous Murmansk Run, obviating the German blockade and bringing arms and ammunition to a beleaguered Soviet army. Krader once related that his work as a signalman required his attention for less than an hour a day and this gave him a golden opportunity to read the classics during his down time.

There are several reasons. The first is that I had an idea, about , that epistemology is a shade without substance; it is not any persiflage, but its tasks have been taken over one by one through other fields. Logic belongs to mathematics, morals and politics to the human sciences, rhetoric and poetics are in fields unto themselves; there remain metaphysics and epistemology.

The former is what I mean by a chimera, without substance; Plato got it exactly wrong, for the truth is on the floor of the cave, among those chained there, and the sunlight is a mirage, without any truth or reality to it. Philosophy has seen its substance stripped from it by scientific advancements. Physics is no longer Aristotelian, biology, cosmology are all independent empirical sciences; philosophy can be proud to have served as the mater scientiarum.

There remains the mind itself to be studied, which is an empirical object, and its study an empirical science, independent of the others.

He had been leery of Weltfish on account of her Communist connections, but found nothing of Communism in her lectures: Out of curiosity, I took a course with Gene Weltfish in the spring semester of , on material culture. I found nothing of communism in it, only common sense, a sound Boasian anthropology As a child in the s, Krader had attended lectures at the Museum of Natural History in New York, where he discovered the evolutionary perspective: I had attended lectures at the American Museum of Natural History as a child in the s, and my imagination was stirred at that time by the evolutionary perspectives toward life.

The evolution was still Darwinian, for there was no 20th century theory about what might be imparted to beginners; but the deep time frames and the broad bio-geographic extent were already at work in the minds of the lecturers, and in my own. In Noetics , Krader distinguishes between cosmological and biotic evolution which includes the evolution of the species Homo sapiens and human development, which is generated in the material and biotic orders but is constituted in the human order of nature.

In other words, human being is generated out of Homo sapiens to which it remains tied by nexus and difference, but in its constitution cannot be reduced to its biotic origins. At the time of his course with Gene Weltfish, he came to admire the Russian anthropologists, Vladimir Bogoraz and Vladimir Jochelson, and their work among and writings about the Chuckchis and Yukaghir respectively.

There were a number of conditions that led Krader away from the New York intellectuals with whom he had been associated since his early years at City. Krader explains the nature of his disillusionment through a vignette concerning a visit to New York by Isaiah Berlin: Who delivered a brilliant speech on Tolstoy, his language and habits.

Berlin spoke fluently, without notes, seemingly on the spur of the moment, making well-taken, often profound, point after point. There were in New York during the s and s many excellent thinkers and writers, as Dewey and Cohen in philosophy, Boas in anthropology, Burke in literary criticism, Schapiro himself in art history; Rosenberg and Greenberg were active in art criticism; there were many more beside these. Dewey represented pragmatism; behind him stood James and Peirce, who had together propounded an important and distinguished philosophy.

In wider circles, Sapir in linguistics had made an important contribution; behind him stood W. Whitney, himself a powerful linguist, who had lent his name to the Century Dictionary.

According to Schapiro, all this counted for nothing, and was swept aside the by the incursion of the refugees from Europe. I was not even 20 at the earlier time, and concluded as had Schapiro, that the intellectual life in New York was indeed worthless.

The new currents being introduced from Europe were more powerful than the indigenous ones. On the other hand, New York did not build up on what it had. A more sage conduct of the sciences would have added Tarski to Emil Post, Panofsky to Schapiro, and so on, but nothing of this sort happened. The new mathematical logic thrust back the older logic of Cohen and Nagel; the latter then disowned publicly what he had written on the subject with Cohen; Cohen was thrust aside by Carnap; Carnap also swept A.

Lovejoy away. Jakobson set aside the work of Sapir and Bloomfield in linguistics. I only speak of the fields that I know, and do not refer to others, where my knowledge is inadequate, or where I am not well informed. In the light of this, I turned my back on New York; the intellectuals there did not think their tradition was worth saving, and I did not have reason to think otherwise. But Krader did not share in the general enthusiasm for the new winds from Europe.

He had already sampled the intellectual wares offered by Carnap and found them wanting: On the other hand, the alternative offered by Carnap in logical positivism was not a valid one. He was criticized by Quine, Tarski, Morton White, and some others, for making an absolute distinction between the analytic and the synthetic. To me, this Carnapian dictum resuscitated the Kantian philosophy; Carnap had made this distinction for the best of reasons, in order to defeat J.

And for this, Nagel gave up his own work and rallied to the side of Carnap, joining the unified science movement; Dewey, pragmatism, Lovejoy, the history of ideas were thrust onto the garbage heap. Schapiro was an anti-Stalinist Marxist who had written for oppositional journals, such as the Marxist Quarterly and Partisan Review in the s and s, and he rejected the straight-jacket in which political Marxism sought to encase art and cultural expression.

It was Michelson who introduced Krader to Roman Jakobson with whom he studied linguistics in His strength in both linguistics and semantics is one of the pillars on which this work on noesis rests: Semantics, as the science of meaning, has a central place in noetic processes, which have to do with the meaning of words, whereas noetics takes up not only meanings in this sense, but also the meanings of entire speculative systems, as well as sense and meaning in many other contexts, in the arts, sciences, as well as ordinary life.

The difference between sense and meaning is investigated in semantics, psychology, and noetics. In , Karl Korsch spent the summer in Seattle and Krader came to know him through many lengthy discussions on Marx that continued in Boston when Krader went to Harvard shortly thereafter. I told him that I would take it on at some future time. Korsch was also associated with Meyer Schapiro; they shared a similar appreciation of Marx, critique of Marxist orthodoxy, and suspicion of closed systems.

I also knew how to read Chinese, but only with a dictionary. This ability gave people the unsupported impression that I am a China expert, which I am not. During the s and s there was a great shortage of specialists in the Chinese field, chiefly because McCarthy had driven many away, and frightened others from the field. As a result I was put in charge of the China program at the Census Bureau, for which I had neither the language capability save as specified above, nor an appropriate background in the demography of China.

All these posts and offers of posts were far from my area of competence. Overtures to Krader to lure him into the position of a China expert continued. Bureau of the Census. He joined the Department of Anthropology in and served there until when he was appointed chair of the Asian Division of the College of Arts and Sciences and simultaneously professor of anthropology and professor of Slavic culture in the Slavic Department of Ohio State University.

From to he was the director of the Nomadism Project and the Directory of the Arid Zones Research Project and professor of anthropology at Syracuse University. From to he taught anthropology at the City University of New York and was then appointed chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Krader concentrated on the pastoral nomadism of the Mongols, Kazakhs and others in the s, still believing that it represented a stage in human evolution. From about to he focused on the nationalities problem in the USSR, a subject on which he became expert and continued to follow closely into his years of retirement. With the publication of the Notebooks and the Asiatic Mode of Production in the early seventies, Krader in fact stood at the pinnacle of Marx scholarship in anthropology specifically and the social sciences more generally.

But Krader increasingly began to think that his intensive study of Marx and Hegel was important for what they lacked in contemporary relevance.

Both of them, however, posited the completion of history, a final synthesis. They both argued in favor of the universal, as a hypostatization of the general.

In his Treatise of Social Labor and Labor and Value, Krader has taken issue with making class the preeminent category. For Krader, labor and not class is the starting point, there being no end point or universal teleology, either in nature or in human history. There are only specific ends posited by individuals and groups, and they are not driven inexorably and by necessity to their actualization.

They are not realized but remain a potentiality. The philosophies of history put forward by Hegel and Marx…are in one sense variants of a single philosophy of history…Hegel and Marx were both teleologists, and within that frame, eschatologists, believing that human history has a grand and final end toward which it inevitably moves, and within that frame, minor teleological movements.

The final end in Hegel is the absolute idea on earth, the march of God through the world, the God being the ideal of Lutheran Christianity, the march of the state through the world, reason being its driving force. Krader maintains that he began his lifelong study of noetics as an undergraduate in the philosophy department at CCNY in the late s, that the philosophies of Hegel and Marx were noetically inadequate: the former abstracted thinking and knowing from the senses — a criticism raised by Ludwig Feuerbach after — and the latter lacking in a theory of mind and consciousness.

From that time until his death in November of he produced over manuscripts varying in length from a few dozen to many hundreds of pages. In August of a week of discussions took place in Berlin between Krader and the editor of this work in which a plan was developed whereby the two would work together to publish a number of these manuscripts beginning with Labor and Value which was in its penultimate draft, to be followed by the publication of Noetics which was in its antepenultimate draft.

Krader and Levitt would work jointly and severally on the manuscripts involving graduate students who would incorporate the manuscripts into their thesis work.


The Lawrence Krader Research Project

Wiener and mathematical logic and linguistics with Alfred Tarski. In , he also studied logic with Rudolf Carnap and ethnology with Franz Boas. During this time, he developed an interpretation of human evolution which stimulated him to leave philosophy, and commence an intensive study of the nomadic peoples of Central Asia, becoming a fellow of the Far Eastern Institute at the University of Washington in Seattle. His new research interests probably also owed something to meeting Karl Wittfogel in whom he helped with research and Russian translations, and his contact with Karl Korsch. In Krader traveled for the first time to outer Mongolia. From to Krader received finance for his research project on the evolution of the state and nomadism from the National Science Foundation.


Lawrence Krader






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