Charles Parsons

Charles Parsons

Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus
Charles Parsons

Charles Parsons received his PhD in philosophy from Harvard in 1961. Earlier, he received a B. A. in mathematics from Harvard and studied philosophy at the University of Cambridge. After teaching briefly at Cornell and Harvard, he joined the faculty at Columbia University in 1965 and remained there until 1989, serving for two terms as department chair. He came to Harvard in 1989 and became Edgar Pierce Professor in 1991. He retired in 2005. Between 2002 and 2009 he was an occasional visiting professor at UCLA.  From 1966 to 1990 he was an editor of the Journal of Philosophy; he continues as Consulting Editor.

Parsons has published papers on mathematical logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of logic and language, Kant, and historical figures in the foundations of mathematics, such as Frege, Hilbert, and Gödel. Many of his philosophical papers are collected in Mathematics in Philosophy (Cornell, 1983, reissued in paper, 2005), From Kant to Husserl (Harvard, 2012), and Philosophy of Mathematics in the Twentieth Century (Harvard, 2014). He was editor, with Solomon Feferman and others, of Volumes III-V of the Collected Works of Kurt Gödel (Oxford, 1995, 2003). He is author of Mathematical Thought and its Objects (Cambridge, 2008).

Recent uncollected papers include "Gödel and philosophical idealism," Philosophia Mathematica (3) 18 (2010), 166-192, “Analyticity for realists,” in Juliette Kennedy (ed.), Interpreting Gödel (Cambridge, 2014), 131-150, “Infinity and a critical view of logic,” Inquiry 58 (2015), 1-19, and “Concepts vs. objects." in Erich Reck (ed.), Logic, Philosophy of Mathematics, and their History: Essays in honor of W W. Tait (London: College Publications, 2018), pp. 91-111.


(Photograph courtesy of Terence Parsons)

Contact Information

Emerson 201
p: 617-495-8337