Study cards must be signed and submitted today by 5 p.m., and while minds can always change before the add-drop deadline, most students will make their final scheduling decisions today. However, there is one class which students may still want to shop before setting anything in stone. The renowned Cogan University Professor Hilary Putnam will be retiring after this semester, but not before taking one last curtain call with his former student, Professor of Afro-American Studies Cornel R. West '74.
Students who had a chance to shop Philosophy 135: "Pragmatism and NeoPragmatism" over the last week listened to a conversation between two of the great living American pragmatists, Professor West and Professor Putnam. This is the last time this bright constellation of minds will appear behind the podium of a Harvard classroom. At the end of his introduction to the class, Professor Putnam announced that he would be retiring after this semester.
Putnam has been a spotlight on the American academic stage since he arrived at Harvard in 1965. His impact at Harvard has been long and wide-reaching. His positions as a faculty member of the departments of both the Study of Religion and Philosophy demonstrate the breadth of his expertise. His extensive writings on the philosophy of mathematics and logic and on realism and pragmatism are his most noted contributions to academia.
Putnam made himself known on campus during the strike of 1969 when students took over University Hall. He was one of the professors who supported the students and one of the leaders of the liberal caucus.
Putnam's impending retirement will make the class bittersweet for both professors and students. West said that he and Putnam had been planning this class over a year and a half ago. "It's a historic moment," West said of Putnam's retirement. "He's the last in a line of powerful 20th century thinkers."
So before the rest of the semester dissolves into a blur of midterms and problem sets, we would like to take this moment to salute Professor Putnam for his astounding academic achievements and his lasting effect on our University. We wish him well on all his travels, both literary and worldly. We hope he enjoys his final lectures as much as his students will.