Irving Singer

Irving Singer

Irving Singer
Born (1925-12-24)December 24, 1925
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died February 1, 2015(2015-02-01) (aged 89)
Nationality United States
Notable work (see published works below)
Awards (see awards below)
Website .html/singer/
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Humanist
Institutions Harvard, MIT
Main interests
Aesthetics, philosophy of love, philosophy of film

Irving Singer (December 24, 1925 – February 1, 2015) was an American professor of philosophy who was on the faculty of the Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock,[1] Jean Renoir, and Orson Welles. Singer began publishing philosophy in 1951.


Singer was born in Brooklyn, New York City, on December 24, 1925;[2] his parents were Isadore and Nettie Stromer Singer, immigrants from Austria-Hungary, who owned a grocery store in Coney Island.[2][3]

Singer skipped three grades in school, graduating from Manhattan's Townsend Harris High School at age 15.[2][3]

He entered the U.S. Army, serving in World War II, writing History of the 210th Field Artillery Group, which was published by the Army in 1945.[2][3]

After studying for a short time at Brooklyn College before the war and attending Biarritz American University in Paris just after the war, Singer went to Harvard University on the G.I. Bill,[2][3] joined Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated summa cum laude with an A.B. in 1948.[3] He did his graduate studies at Oxford University and Harvard, receiving his PhD in philosophy from Harvard in 1952.[3]

Singer taught briefly at Harvard, Cornell University, the University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins University. He joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1958, first as a lecturer, but then promoted to associate professor in 1959, and full professor at 1967.[1] He died in 2015.[2]


  • Four prize essays and other student awards, Harvard University[4]
  • ACLS Research Scholar, 1949–1950[4]
  • Post-doctoral Fulbright Research Scholar, 1955–1956[4]
  • Bollingen Grant-in-aid, 1958, 1959, 1965[4]
  • The Hudson Review Fellow in Criticism, 1958–1959[4]
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 1965–1966[4]
  • ACLS Grant-in-aid, 1966[4]
  • Fellow of the Villa I Tatti, Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Florence, Italy, 1965–1967[4]
  • Bollingen Fellowship, 1966–1967[4]
  • Rockefeller Foundation Grant, 1970[4]
  • Balliol College/MIT Exchange, Oxford University, 1999[4]
  • Fellow, European Humanities Research Centre, Oxford University, 1999–2004[4]

Published works

By Singer

  • Santayana's Aesthetics: A Critical Analysis (1957) ISBN 9780837166964
  • The Goals of Human Sexuality (1973) ISBN 9780393010718
  • Mozart and Beethoven: The Concept of Love in Their Operas (1977) ISBN 9780262513647
  • The Nature of Love Volume 1: Plato to Luther (1984) ISBN 978-0262512725
  • The Nature of Love Volume 2: Courtly and Romantic (1984) ISBN 9780262512732
  • The Nature of Love Volume 3: The Modern World (1987) ISBN 978-0262512749
  • Meaning in Life: The Creation of Value (1992, 1996) ISBN 9780262266482
  • Meaning in Life Volume 2: The Pursuit of Love (1994) ISBN 9780801852404
  • Meaning in Life Volume 3: The Harmony of Nature and Spirit (1996) ISBN 9780801860515
  • Reality Transformed: Film as Meaning and Technique (1998) ISBN 978-0262692489
  • George Santayana, Literary Philosopher (2000) ISBN 9780300128536
  • Feeling and Imagination: The Vibrant Flux of Our Existence (2001)
  • Explorations in Love and Sex (2001) ISBN 9780742512382 ISBN 978-0742512382
  • Sex: A Philosophical Primer (2001, expanded edition: 2004) ISBN 978-0742512368
  • Three Philosophical Filmmakers: Hitchcock, Welles, Renoir (2004) ISBN 978-0262693288
  • Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher: Reflections on his Creativity (2007) ISBN 978-0262513234
  • Cinematic Mythmaking: Philosophy in Film (2008) ISBN 978-0262515153
  • Philosophy of Love: A Partial Summing-Up (2009) ISBN 978-0262516174
  • Modes of Creativity: Philosophical Perspectives (2011) ISBN 978-0262518758

About Singer

  • The Nature and Pursuit of Love: The Philosophy of Irving Singer (Prometheus Books, 1995) — based on academic papers presented at a three-day conference about Singer at Brock University in 1991 ISBN 978-0879759124 [1]


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ a b c d e f
  3. ^ a b c d e f
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l

External links

  • MIT philosophy: faculty: Irving Singer — main faculty biography
    • Irving Singer: List of Publications on the M.I.T. Faculty Bibliographies site
    • Curriculum vitae on the MIT website
  • The Irving Singer Library at MIT Press
  • Reviews by Singer and replies by Singer in the New York Review of Books
  • Three Philosophical FilmmakersReview of Singer, , by Daniel Ross
  • Cinematic Mythmaking and Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic PhilosopherReview of Singer, , by Daniel Ross
  • Reality TransformedReview of Singer, , by Melissa Ursula Dawn Goldsmith
  • Philosophy of Love in the Western World - Session 1 on YouTube — Irving Singer course lecture, derived from the MIT OpenCourseWare project