Dec 142008

Robert L. Horn is a philosopher, scholar, and teacher who has been an inspiration for several gene­rations of young philo­sophers. He grew up near Richmond, Indiana, earned his B.A. from Earlham College, his Th.D. from Union Theological Semi­nary, taught at Haver­ford Col­lege (1958-1961), Union Theological Seminary (1960-1966), and was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School. In 1966 he was lured back to Earlham, where he taught for roughly thirty years. His area of specialization was in Kant, Hegel, and the Danish Hegelians who com­prised the context for Søren Kierkegaard. He also had a deep interest in Plato, especially in the illumi­na­tion of the dialogues by historical and archaeolo­gical research, as well as in Native American culture and as­tronomy.

It was with great pleasure that I learned, last year, of the publication of Robert Leslie Horn, Positivity and Dialectic: A Study of the Theological Method of Hans Lassen Mar­ten­sen, Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre and C. A. Rietzel, Copenhagen, 2007.  I think that Bob was probably pleased that it was published by Kierkegaard’s publisher, Rietzel. Here are some snippets from the editor’s introduction:

The present work was originally a dissertation for the degree of Th.D. at the Union Theological Semi­nary in New York City in 1969.  For years now, it has been known as a kind of insider’s tip among the small circle of Anglophone scholars interested in Danish Golden Age theology. Unfortunately, the work was never published, and its reception has until now been limited to those who personally knew the author or had access to it via the university microfilm dissertation service. . .

Although it was written more than twenty-five years ago, this text still today must be regarded as one of the leading works on Danish Golden Age philosophy and theology in the English language. . . .the present work can be said to anticipate a number of historically oriented studies of Søren Kierkegaard’s works that have been published over the last decade or so by leading scholars. . . .In this respect it is to be praised as an outstanding pioneering effort in the field.  However, unlike many other pioneering works, its scholarly standard is extremely high. . .

There can be no doubt that when this work comes to be more generally known by students and scholars alike, it will contribute immensely to our appreciation of the work of Hans Lassen Martensen. Moreover, it will help to put the philosophy and theology of Søren Kierkegaard in a new perspective. . .

There is much more that can be said about Bob Horn. It was an extraordinary privilege to study with him. I thought of Bob when I read Nathan’s post mentioning Schoen­berg’s comment to Karl Kraus: “I have per­haps learned more from you than one is permitted to learn if one wishes to remain independent.”


  2 Responses to “Robert L. Horn”

  1. [...] “All that stuff about ‘a prior synthetic cognition’ may be very interesting to you,” my father observed somewhat patronizingly, “but you’re not going to find many young men interested in it.” I didn’t bother him after that with philosophy. I kept it to myself, or at least kept it to myself until I was back at Earlham again and could drop by the office of my professor and advisor Bob Horn. [...]

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