Presenting: John Perry

By Elizabeth Romero, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing
January 27, 2009

When you type John Perry  into the search engine of CHASS's website, you read: John Perry Ph.D., Cornell University, 1968: Distinguished Professor of Philosophy. As your eyes glance on the brief paragraph summarizing Perry's scholastic timeline, Doane College, UCLA, Stanford, and Riverside jut out of the matrix of words of "published books" "many articles" "Guggenheim Fellowship" and 
"Philosophy Talk". Indeed these words in quotation marks help define a man of high intellect, but that is all the reader learns about John Perry, nothing more, nothing else. But as you, reader, continue on, you will be introduced to the more in-depth John Perry.

After graduating from a public school in Lincoln, Nebraska, Perry went on "with no clear goal except to play football" as he states, to Doane College. As he was approaching the end of his freshman year, Perry's coach pulled him aside and told him the truth, "Perry, you are small, but you're slow. Why don't you concentrate on academics." Philosophy then became Perry's major, "which has worked out pretty well," Perry states. He graduated from Doane College and continued his study of philosophy at Cornell University on a Danforth Fellowship. Four years later, in 1968, Perry continued on to UCLA where he became an assistant professor. In 1974, Perry moved to Stanford; in 2008 Perry 'retired' from Stanford saying that "it is sort of phased retirement, so I will teach half-time at Stanford until 2011." With the other part of his time, Perry has taken a half-time position at UCR where he will teach in the Winter and Spring.

After asking about his publications and other awards he has received (besides the Jean Nicod Prize, the Humboldt Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship), Perry let me know that he has published a couple of dialogues on personal identity and another on good and evil, all of which "are widely used in introductory courses." He also published a book called Knowledge, Possibility and Consciousness that, Perry claims with good humor, "solved a great number of philosophical problems, although not many seem to have noticed." Reference and Reflexivity is another book in the philosophy of language that will be out in a couple months: "It will be a handsome, inexpensive volume with a picture of a dog on the front cover, and so should make an excellent birthday or Christmas gift."


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