Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (born 1932) is a Belgian-born American philosopher known for her work in the philosophy of mind (in particular on the emotions), history of philosophy (especially Aristotle, Spinoza and Descartes), and moral philosophy.
Rorty received her B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1951, M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University in 1954 and 1961 respectively, and an M.A. from Princeton University in Anthropology (where she has projected getting a second Ph.D.). She began her academic career at Wheaton College (Mass.) (1957–1961), then began teaching at Rutgers (Douglass College) in 1962 and taught there through to 1988, by which time she had achieved the rank of Distinguished Professor. She was also professor in the History of Ideas (and Director of the program) at Brandeis University from 1995–2003, and from 2008–2013 was visiting professor at Boston University. From 2013–2015, she will be a visiting professor at Tufts University. She is also an honorary lecturer in social medicine in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard School of Medicine. Rorty is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships over the course of her career, beginning as a fellow with the American Association of University Women in 1956–57 and a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, 1968–69.
Rorty is the author of over 100 scholarly articles and the author or editor of more than a dozen scholarly books of original essays. A monograph, Mind in Action: Essays in Philosophy of Mind, appeared in 1988 with Beacon Press (paperback edition 1991). She also edited and contributed to Explaining Emotions (U. California Press, 1980), Essays on Aristotle’s Ethics (1980, U.California Press), and co-edited Essays on Aristotle’s De Anima (Oxford, 1992) with Martha Nussbaum. She initiated and served as General Editor of Modern Studies in Philosophy (Doubleday-Anchor) and of Major Thinkers (University of California Press). Other notable books she edited include The Many Faces of Evil (Routledge, 2001) and The Identities of Persons (1976, U. California Press).
Oksenberg Rorty, daughter of Polish Jews Klara and Israel Oksenberg, was born in Belgium in 1932 and emigrated with her parents to Virginia, where she was raised on a farm. She enrolled at a young age at the University of Chicago, where she met and began a relationship with graduate student Richard Rorty; both went on to pursue doctorates at Yale, and married in 1954 against her parents’ objections. They had a son, James (Jay), in 1961, and divorced in 1972. She wrote about her upbringing in “Dependency, Individuality and Work.”
Additional awards and fellowships
- 1971–1973, Fellow, King's College, Cambridge
- 1984–1985, Visiting Honorary Research Associate, Philosophy, Harvard University
- 1980–1981, Member, Institute for Advanced Study
- 1990–1991, John Simon Guggenheim Fellow
- 1994–1995, Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow
- 2001–2002, Distinguished Woman Philosopher of the Year, Society for Women in Philosophy
- 2007–2008, Fellow, National Humanities Center