University Library

Special Collections and Archives

Abraham Kaplan Collection


Descriptive Summary:

Abraham Kaplan Collection

Collection Number:

Iona Kaplan, James Manley

Linear feet: 25.5; Number of containers: 17 boxes

Abraham Kaplan

Abraham Kaplan
ca. 1987

Physical Location:
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona: University Library Special Collections, Bldg 15, room 4228A


Abraham Kaplan (1918-1993) was a philosopher, an author and an educator. His collection contains correspondence, articles, lectures, speeches, book manuscripts, subject files, notes, and printed matter pertaining to his writings and academic career.


Abraham Kaplan (1918-1993) was an American philosopher with a long and distinguished career. He was born June 11, 1918 to parents Joseph J. (a Rabbi) and Chava (Lerner) Kaplan in Odessa, Ukraine. Kaplan and his family immigrated to the United States in 1923 and he became a naturalized citizen in 1930. A student of philosopher Bertrand Russell, he graduated from the College of St. Thomas in 1937, did graduate study at the University of Chicago from 1937-40, and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1942. He began his teaching career as an assistant professor for New York University from 1940-45. He then went on to the University of California, Los Angeles to become an assistant professor from 1946-49, an associate professor from 1949-52, a professor of philosophy from 1952-63, and the chair of the department from 1952-65. He also taught at the University of Michigan from 1962-72 before he moved to the University of Haifa in Israel, where he became professor emeritus in 1978. Besides giving many lectures across the globe, Kaplan held visiting distinguished professorships at over twelve universities including the California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He devoted much of his time to organizations such as the American Philosophical Association (president of Pacific Division 1947-58) and the Association for Jewish Philosophy. He married Iona Judith Wax (a child psychologist) November 17, 1939 and had two children: Karen Eva Kaplan Diskin and Jessica Aryia Kaplan Symonds.

Kaplan traveled to and studied the cultures and beliefs of India, Israel, and Japan. As he himself put it: "I must identify myself: by training a positivist, by inclination a pragmatist, in temperament a mystic, in practice a democrat; my faith Jewish, educated by Catholics, an habitual Protestant; born in Europe, raised in the Midwest, hardened in the East and softened once more in California; psychoanalyzed, naturalized, denatured — in short, an American academician." He was also widely recognized for his endeavors — he was named one of the top ten teachers in the United States by Time magazine in 1966 and was both a Guggenheim (1945-46) and a Rockefeller (1957-58) Fellow. His written works include New World of Philosophy, American Ethics and Public Policy, The Conduct of Inquiry, and In Pursuit of Wisdom: The Scope of Philosophy. He died of a heart attack at the age of 75 on June 19, 1993 in Los Angeles.

Scope and Content

The range of the Abraham Kaplan Collection covers the earliest to the latest of his published works, lectures and workshops given around the world, and many unpublished writings. Items include manuscripts (both published and unpublished works), offprints of published articles, publisher’s review copies, bound volumes, correspondence, travel files, research, newsclippings, lecture notes, personal files, and cassette and reel-to-reel recordings of his lectures.

The collection arrived in no discernable order and was rearranged into the following series:

Subject File




The Subject File series comprises the largest portion of the collection, containing Kaplan’s personal and professional files. Most of the files in this series were compiled and titled by Kaplan himself. Of particular interest is a series of files that he grouped into "Lectures;" each file contains typed and handwritten pages filled with Kaplan’s knowledge of a particular subject, delivered in lectures to students around the world. Kaplan used much of the material here as a resource to compile his written works and to broaden his knowledge of world religions and cultures. Of special interest is a file titled "Terrorism," which contains articles and research findings that Kaplan had gathered on the subject. Other areas within the series include disciplines of philosophy, world history, and religion (with an emphasis on Judaism throughout). In addition to files originating with Kaplan are two other areas of interest: "News Articles/Publications About Kaplan" and "Interviews with Kaplan," containing news clippings, journals, periodicals, photocopies, and programs detailing the philosopher’s career and ideology. Kaplan’s "Professional Correspondence" is also contained here, being letters and memorabilia from colleagues, friends and students.

The Writings series contains Kaplan’s extensive collection of handwritten and typed lectures, essays, reviews, articles, and book manuscripts. Works are shown in various stages of progress, from cross-out and white-out editing to the publisher’s review copy. Some files contain materials related to the compilation or publication of a work; i.e., handwritten notes, offprints of articles used as reference, and even publishers’ rejection notices. Titles of significance in this series include Kaplan’s unpublished works On Being Human: Notes for the Examined Life; The Mind of Israel; and The God Story, which was co-written with his wife Iona Kaplan. Of special interest is the title Freedom and Terror: Reason and Unreason in Politics, which contains two chapters about terrorism. One of the chapters, The Psychodynamics of Terrorism, was published in a journal and can be found in the Publications series; the other chapter, The Ethics of Terrorism, can be found as an additional file in this series. Also included are a several published works that gained special attention: (In) Pursuit of Wisdom: The Scope of Philosophy is one example. As in the Subject File series, the Writings series covers a large array of topics from metaphysics to religion, with a strong emphasis on the Hebrew culture. Many files in the Writings series can be cross-referenced with their published counterparts in the Publications series.

Located in the Publications series are all of the published materials that arrived with Kaplan Collection. Formats include journal offprints/reprints, entire journals, hardbound books, and photocopies of journals/magazines. Kaplan’s works are presented in a variety of languages including German, Portuguese, French, and Hebrew. One important title in this series is Kaplan’s first book The New World of Philosophy. Also of interest is a file of book reviews written by Kaplan and two Encyclopedia Americana volumes that contain Kaplan’s contributions for BODY AND MIND and CAUSE. Of special interest is an article in which Kaplan delves into the topic of terrorism: The Psychodynamics of Terrorism. Of particular note to those in the field of library information science is Kaplan’s article The Age of the Symbol: a Philosophy of Library Education from v.34, no.4 of Library Quarterly, in which he succinctly redefines the function of the library as it relates to the age of information. Many files in the Publications series can be cross-referenced with their unpublished counterparts in the Writings series.

The Recordings series contains cassette tapes and 1/4" reel-to-reel recordings of many lectures given by Kaplan in the years from 1954 to 1989. Lectures were given at high school assemblies, radio conferences, workshops, conferences and seminars. Also included is a four-part cassette recording of Abraham Kaplan’s oral history (no transcript is available at this time).

Series Description:

Series 1: Subject File

Boxes 1-4

Arranged alphabetically.

Most of the files in this series were organized and titled by Kaplan himself; however, they arrived in no discernible order and were arranged alphabetically so that they might be searchable. The processor created files in instances where a clear subject could be gleaned from the documents. Contents of files created by Kaplan were in no way disturbed, separated, or otherwise altered.

Box 1: Academic — Groups

Box 2: Hist. Esthetics — Lectures-Zionism

Box 3: Literary Criticism — Probability

Box 4: Professional Correspondence — Zen

Series 2: Writings

Boxes 5-8

Arranged alphabetically by title.

This series is of Kaplan’s writings: handwritten and word-processed; published and unpublished; finished and unfinished; submitted to many publishers or to none at all. Most of the typewritten works arrived in mass quantities; three copies of each were accessioned and the rest were reserved for donation or other possible uses. The documents were arranged into alphabetical order for ease in finding a work by title. In some cases Kaplan kept files accompanying his works, whether they were research or rejection notices. These files are placed before their corresponding manuscripts in the collection. As in the Subject File Series, many manuscripts arrived arranged in files by Kaplan, and were not necessarily arranged by specific title. In some instances, files are titled by the subject of the manuscript and not by the title of the work. Rather than disturb the files created by Kaplan, they were arranged alphabetically by the title that he gave them. All other files are arranged by the title of the manuscript.

Box 5: Aesop Revisited — Freedom and Terror

Box 6: Freedom and Terror — Management MSS & WPI

Box 7: Management and the Metaphysics of Culture — Pardon the Expression

Box 8: Pardon the Expression — Values in Decision-Making

Series 3: Publications

Boxes 9-10

Arranged alphabetically.

Many of Kaplan’s publications arrived in bundles of copies of offprints; three copies of each were accessioned and the rest were discarded or reserved for donation or other possible uses. Also filed in the collection are journal issues containing his articles; books by Kaplan and books in which his writings appear; his works in translation; and photocopies of his publications. In a few instances, the publisher and/or date of publication are unknown. For a complete container listing of this series, see below under "Selective Container Listing."

Box 9: (Serials) Aesthetics of the Popular Arts — Whose Just Rights

Box 10: (Monographs) Conduta Na Pesquisa — Theorien der Kunst

Series 4: Recordings

Box 11

Arranged chronologically.

Includes taped recordings of various lectures given over the period of 1954-89 and a four-part oral history interview conducted with Kaplan in December 1989. Most items are 1/4-inch reel-to-reel recordings; the rest are cassette tapes.

Selective Container Listing:

Series 3: Publications — Boxes 9-10

*Note: This series was selected to receive a complete container listing in order to provide increased public access to Kaplan’s publications.

Box 9:

-Aesthetics of the Popular Arts — Journal of Aesthetics and Criticism, v.24 no.3, Spr. 1966

-Age in Western Theory and Practice

-Age of the Symbol — Library Quarterly — v.34 no.4, Oct. 1964 — pp. 295-304

-American Ethics and Public Policy — Daedalus — v.87 no.2, 1958

-Are Moral Judgements Assertion? — Philosophical Review - May 1942

-Behavioral Science and the Law — Case Western Reserve Law Review — v.19 no.1, Nov. 1967

-Buddhism and Judaism — Bulletin Sanko Research Institute — no.3, 1968

-Calculus for Empirical Classes — Methods — 1951

-Content Analysis and the Theory of Signs — Philosophy of Science — v.10, Oct. 1943

-Definition and the Specification of Meaning — Journal of Philosophy — v.43 no.11, May 23, 1946

-East-West Center (Text of a Speech to East-West Center Students… )- Jan. 22, 1969

-Epistemology of Drug Abuse

-Esthetic Ambiguity — Philosophy and Phenomenological Research — v.8 no.3, Mar. 1948

-Experimental Study of Ambiguity and Context — Mechanical Translation — v.2 no.2, Nov. 1955

-Explanations of Ritual — DAAT — no.13, Summer 1984

-Frames of Irrationality — Epistemologia

-Framework for an Empirical Ethics — Philosophy of Science — v.7 no.4, Oct. 1940

-Freud et la Philosophie Moderne — Etudes Philosophiques — no.3, Jul./Sep. 1964

-Hasidism and Zen-Buddhism — Japanese Religions — v.8 no.3, Apr. 1975

-Hassidism — Brandeis Institute Women’s Association

-Havdalah: An Original Service — Central Conference American Rabbis Journal — Autumn 1972

-HEBREW PUBLICATIONS — Contains several journals and newsclippings printed in Hebrew

-Historical Interpretation — Philosophy of History and Action — Dordrecht, Reidel, 1978. Rev. from In Pursuit of Wisdom — Los Angeles, Glencoe, 1977

-Human Relations and Human Rights in Judaism (based on the Mark Chamberlain Lecture delivered at Lewis and Clark University, Jan. 13, 1978)

-Impact of Pragmatism on the Problems of Developing Countries — Indian Journal of American Studies — v.7 no.2, July 1977

-Irrationality in Decision-Making — Mathematical Social Sciences — no.13, 1987

-Judaic View of God — Judaism — v.33 no.4, Fall 1984

-Life of Dialogue — Communication

-Logical Empiricism and Value Judgements — The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap — LaSalle, The Open Court Publishing Co., 1963

-Madness in the Modern Theater — Journal of the Faculty of Letters, The University of Tokyo (Aesthetics) — v.3, 1978

-Maturity in Religion (Freud Memorial Lecture delivered before the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis, May 24, 1963)

-Moral Responsibilities and Political Realities — Policy Sciences — no.14, 1982

-Moral Values in Higher Education

-Must There Be Propositions? — Mind — v.48 no.192

-My Faith — Hillel Council Maccabean — March 1959

-NEWSPAPER ARTICLES — Contains newsclippings and photocopies of Kaplan’s newspaper articles

-Noncausal Explanation — Cause and Effect — Free Press, 1965 — pp. 145-56

-O Tempora, O Mores! — Tempo Economico — no.274

-Obscenity as an Esthetic Category — Law and Contemporary Problems — Autumn 1955 AND Kim-dai "Hogaku" — v.12 nos.3-4, March 15, 1964

-On the So-called Crisis in Criticism — Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism — v.7 no.1, Sep. 1948

-On the Strategy of Social Planning — Policy Sciences 4 — 1973 — pp. 41-61

-Philosophic Sense and Mystic Sensibility — Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association — v.32, Dec. 29-31 1958

-Philosophical Point of View — Psychiatric Research Reports 6 — Oct. 1956 — pp. 199-21

-Philosophical Discussion of Normality — Archives of General Psychiatry — v.17, Sep. 1967

-Philosophy of Science in Anthropology — Annual Review of Anthropology — 1984

-Poetry, Medicine and Metaphysics — Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysisv.9 no.1, 1981

-Political Liberty and Human Bondage

-Prediction of Social and Technological Events

-Psychiatrists and Clergymen: Enemies or Allies? — Saturday Evening Post — v.234 no.38, Sep. 23 1961

-Psychodynamics of Terrorism — Terrorism: An International Journal — v.1 no.3/4, 1978

-Realism in the Film: A Philosopher’s Viewpoint — The Quarterly of Film, Radio and Television — v.7 no.4, 1953

-Referential Meaning in the Arts — Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism — v.7 no.4, Jun. 1954

-Reflections on the Brandeis Camp Institute — Brandeis Institute News — Mar./Apr. 1971

-REVIEWS — Contains book reviews written by Kaplan; published in various journals

-Sexual Symbolism in the Kabbalah

-Social Ethics and the Sanctity of Life: A Summary — Life or Death: Ethics and Options — Portland, Reed College, 1968, pp.152-167

-Spinoza and Freud — Journal of the American Academy of Psychonanalysis — v.5 no.3, 1977

-Student Movement — Education Digest — v.33 no.1, Sep. 1967 AND Carnegie Review - no.10, Jan. 1967

-Study of Man

-Theory of Value — from "The Conduct of Inquiry" — Chandler Publishing Co., 1964

-Towards a Philosophy of Judaism — The Jewish Teacher — v.30 no.4, Apr. 1962

-Travesty of the Philosophers — Change — Jan.-Feb. 1970

-Two Philosophies of Small Group Training — Revista For Delli AIF — no.16, Mar. 1992

-Unifying Science in a Disunified World — Scientific Monthly — v.52, Jan. 1941

-Veranderung Durch Ideen — Hochkeppel — no.82, 1970

-What Does Art Express? — Colorado Quarterly — v.11 no.2, Aut. 1962

-What Good is "Truth?" — Philosophy and Phenomenological Research v.15 no.2, Dec.1954

-Whose Just Rights? — Keeping Posted — v.20 no.8, May 1975

Box 10:

-A Conduta Na Pesquisa — Sao Paulo, Editora Herder, 1969 (a Portuguese translation of

The Conduct of Inquiry) — 2 COPIES

-Encyclopedia Americana v.4 — New York, Americana Corporation, 1959 — contains "Body and Mind," pp. 146-7

-Encyclopedia Americana v.6 — New York, Americana Corporation, 1959 — contains "Cause," pp.131-2

-Life or Death: Ethics and Options — Portland, Reed College, 1968 — contains "Social Ethics and the Sanctity of Life: A Summary," pp.152-167

-Mirror of Men’s Minds vol.II — Dubuque, WM. C. Brown Book Company, 1967 — contains "The Aesthetics of the Popular Arts," pp.155-167

-National Association of Home Builders Interdisciplinary Conference on Environmental Design: Transcript of General Sessions — Washington, D.C., National Housing Center, Nov. 19-20, 1964 — Remarks made throughout transcript of conference

-The New World of Philosophy — London, St. James’s Place, 1962 — 2 COPIES (hrdbk)

-The New World of Philosophy — New York, Vintage Books, 1961 — 1 COPY (pbk)

-Sigma: En Matematikens Kulturhistoria sammanstalld och Kommenterad — Stockholm,Victor Pettersons Bokindustri, 1959 — pp.1263-1282 (A Swedish Translation of The World of Mathematics)

-Spheres of Psychotherapeutic Activity — Haifa, The Medical Department, Kupat Cholim Centre — Introduction by Kaplan

-Theorien der Kunst — Frankfurt, Suhrkamp Verlag, 1982 — pp.491-523 — contains "Referenz in der Kunst" (German translation of Reference in the Arts)

-Western Regional Conference for Nurses in Administrative and Supervisory Positions: Human Relations in Supervision — Los Angeles, The School of Nursing, University Extension UCLA, June 10-13, 1956 — contains "Logic, Semantics and the Making Of Decisions," pp.3-12

Related Collections:

The personal library of Abraham Kaplan was also donated to the University Library and can be viewed by doing an Author Search in the library catalog under "Abraham Kaplan Memorial Collection."

Processed by:
Wendolyn Wysock

Date Completed:
October 12, 2001


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