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Philosopher Made Choice Of His Life Work As A Boy


Dewitt H. Parker
The Michigan Alumnus 431

Foundations for careers are
 seldom laid at so early an age 
as 13, but with Dr. DEWITT 
HENRY PARKER, Chairman of 
the Department of Philosophy, to 
decide was to act, and at 13 he had
 decided to study philosophy. He 
therefore persuaded his mother to
 move from New Jersey to Boston,
 the better to prepare for study at
 Harvard, and today, some 40 years 
later, is a Professor of Philosophy,
 head of his department in the University, and the author of no less 
than five books, the latest of which 
is just off the press.

By birth, Pro
fessor Parker is one of that rare
 species, the native New Yorker.
 Born on April 17, 1885, in Amer
ica's largest city, he became a resi
dent of Summit, New Jersey, when 
only three, and it was ten years 
later that he determined to seek 
out the Boston Latin School as a
 guarantee of better preparation for 
the famous university in Cam
bridge.

Graduating in 1902 from
 the Boston institution (where he
 was a contemporary of I. A. Sharf
man, now Chairman of Michigan's 
Department of Economics), he en
tered Harvard, receiving his Bache
lor's degree in 1906 and his Ph.D.
 degree in 1908. The following year 
he was Instructor at Michigan, and 
the year after that served in simi
lar capacity at the University of
 California. But in 1910, he re
turned to Michigan, and in the years
 since Instructor (1910-1914),
 Assistant Professor (1913-1921),
 Associate Professor (1921-1925),
 and Professor since 1925. He re
turned to California to lecture in
 1924-1925, and lectured at the
 Metropolitan Museum, New York, 
in January, 1926. In addition, he has
 served on the summer faculties at
 Wisconsin (1928), Chicago (1929),
 and Harvard (1934 and 1935). He
 was Commencement speaker at Chicago in 1929.

This year, the University Press published his Experi
ence and Substance. Previous works 
by him include The Self and Nature, 1917; The Principles of Aes
thetics, 1920; The Analysis of Art,
 1926, and Human Values, 1931. A
 number of articles in philosophical 
journals are also to his credit. In
 1929-1930, Dr. Parker was President of the Western branch of the
 American Philosophical Association,
 of which he has long been a mem
ber. His chief interest is still the 
study he began as a boy, although 
he has broadened his experience and 
research with five trips abroad, to
 all the leading art centers of the
 world except the Hermitage in Leningrad.