Skip to main content

Professor Samuel Guttenplan

(Elected 2011)

Professor Samuel Guttenplan is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. A New Yorker, he studied at City College, New York and was on its Faculty staff before coming to Oxford to do his DPhil in 1976. He joined the staff at Birkbeck the same year.

Head of Birkbeck’s department of philosophy for two periods during his career, Professor Guttenplan was Dean of what was then effectively Birkbeck’s Faculty of Humanities from 1992 to 1997. This was a busy time of expansion for the College, during which the Faculty’s law department expanded rapidly and has since become a Faculty in its own right.

Retiring in 2010 after close to 35 years in the philosophy department, Professor Guttenplan continues as Executive Editor of Mind and Language, a highly successful interdisciplinary and international journal founded in the department in 1986.

Professor Guttenplan’s research interests encompass the philosophies of mind, language, philosophical logic and ethics. His publications include the widely cited 1994 reference work A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind, and The Languages of Logic, the second edition of which was published in 1997. He has also been an editor and author in the series which includes Reading Philosophy and Reading Ethics. These works form the basis of Professor Guttenplan’s long-standing commitment to pedagogy.

His current work centres on the origins of human conceptual thought, and his next book, The Roots of Categorization, is due to be published by Oxford University Press in 2013. This work will extend one of the central ideas in his earlier book, Objects of Metaphor, to reconceive the philosophical debate over the putative priority of thought and language.

During his time at Birkbeck Professor Guttenplan balanced his academic career with his administrative role in driving forward the College’s responsibility for Philosophy within what is now known as the University of London International Programme. He has recently revised the complete programme, comprising 17 study guides written by eminent academics, to be able to offer the course almost entirely online.

Professor Guttenplan’s Fellowship recognises his great and continuing contribution to philosophy and to Birkbeck. He said: 'I am honoured and enormously pleased to have been awarded a Fellowship because of the commitment I feel to the College. Despite officiating at many graduation ceremonies I don’t know very much about being a Fellow! I look forward to finding out about the duties and responsibilities, and to undertaking whatever the role requires.'