Kickstarter campaign launched to digitize former department member's library

December 14, 2016
portrait of William Ernest Hocking

Although he has been dead for half a century, William Ernest Hocking, Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity in the Department of Philosophy at Harvard University—an endowed chair currently held by professor emeritus T. M. Scanlon—has enjoyed something of a revival of late. Hocking is the somewhat unlikely subject of a recent book entitled American Philosophy: A Love Story (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2016) written by professor of philosophy John Kaag of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. And, now, he is also the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, the first campaign to be launched on that site on behalf of the work of a deceased philosopher.

The Digital Hocking Library campaign is an ambitious initiative by Kaag, the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, the Osher Map Library Digital Imaging Center, and the technology company HistoryIT to digitize the more than 200 annotated books Kaag discovered in Hocking's neglected New Hampshire estate, West Wind. The discovery of Hocking's library and its significance for Kaag both personally and professionally lies at the heart of American Philosophy: A Love Story. In addition to volumes bearing Hocking's marginalia, Kaag discovered William James's heavily annotated copy of Kant's Kritik der Reinen Vernunft, a find that will no doubt occasion future scholarly comparison between it and the copiously annotated copy of the Kritik owned by Josiah Royce and held in Robbins Library.



See also: Department News