Lovejoy, Arthur O.

Lovejoy, Arthur O. (Oncken)

(1837–1962) philosopher, intellectual historian; born in Berlin, Germany. Brought by his American parents to Boston in 1874, he took his M.A. from Harvard where he studied under Josiah Royce and William James, and then went on to the Sorbonne in Paris. After teaching philosophy at Stanford (1899–1900), Washington University (St. Louis) (1901–09), and the University of Missouri (1909–10), he spent the rest of his career at Johns Hopkins (1910–38). He turned away from the traditional concerns of philosophy to concentrate on tracing the historical evolution of certain fundamental concepts—effectively founding the modern discipline of the history of ideas. He founded and was first editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas and was one of the pioneers in encouraging an interdisciplinary approach to scholarship. His masterwork was The Great Chain of Being (1936), which proved to be highly influential well beyond philosophy faculties. Other works include Primitivism and Related Ideas in Antiquity (with George Boas, 1935) and Essays in the History of Ideas (1948). He was also active in settlement work, academic freedom issues, and antifascist organizations during both world wars.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.