Biography

Writer of ‘A Theory of Justice’, John Rawls! A well-read philosopher of the US whose writings influenced the political and social circle!


Writer of ‘A Theory of Justice’, John Rawls! A well-read philosopher of the US whose writings influenced the political and social circle!
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John Rawls was one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. His work threw a new light on the social and political world of today. Moral Philosopher TM Scanlon said:

“John Rawls was widely recognised as the greatest political philosopher of the 20th century. His work revived and reshaped the entire field, and its profound influence on the way justice is understood and argued about will last long into the future.”

Source: CNN (John Rawls)

He wrote the masterpiece A Theory of Justice in 1971 and its opening line states what lies within:

“Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.”

So who was John Rawls and how was his life journey? Let us today have a better view of his life and career!

John Rawls and his growing years

John Rawls was born on 21 February 1921 in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the second of 5 sons of Baltimore’s prominent attorney William Lee Rawls and Anna Rawls. His two brothers died; one with diphtheria and the second due to pneumonia.

Source: Famous People (John Rawls)

John was at Calvert School for 6 years before he got transferred to Kent School in Connecticut. After his graduation in 1939, he attended Princeton University. He was deeply into reading and knowing the various theology and doctrines. In 1943, he completed his B.A. degree and the same year enlisted in the army.

The military service

He was with the military during WWII, serving as an infantryman in the Pacific. He toured New Guinea and the Philippines. The experiences of the Philippines horrified him and he lost his Christian faith. He was soon promoted to a Sergeant. But on witnessing the aftermath of the nuclear bomb blast in Hiroshima, he was not happy in the military. He began disobeying orders and was demoted. In January 1946, he left the military and also became an atheist.

Source: Big Think (John Rawls)

The return to Princeton

In early 1946, he decided to do a doctorate in moral philosophy in Princeton. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1950. After teaching for 2 years, he received the Fulbright Scholarship to Oxford University. On his return to the US, he worked as an assistant and then associate professor at Cornell. In 1962, he became a full-time professor there. He shifted to Harvard and taught there for 40 years.

Source: Philosopher’s mail (John Rawls)

He concentrated on his family life and academics. He rarely gave interviews probably due to his stuttering problem and fear of the limelight. But his thinking was right and genuine and for social justice. His books included A theory of Justice (1971), The Law of Peoples (on international justice), and Justice as Fairness: A restatement (2002).

His personal life

Source: Quora (John Rawls)

John Rawls was a family man. He was married to a Brown University graduate called Margaret Warfield Fox. The wedding took place in 1949. The couple had 4 children.

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