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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 65
whom he wrote the most influential textbook in logic and scientific method published in the period between the mid-1930s and the mid-1950s, and John Dewey, who taught at Columbia for many years and was one of the most important American philosophers in the first half of the twentieth century. Throughout his career Nagel tried to combine the best elements of Cohen's philosophical realism and Dewey's radical instrumentalism.
His closest colleague, personally and philosophically, was probably Sidney Hook, who also taught in New York City for many years, primarily at New York University. Like Dewey and Hook, Nagel also enjoyed the wider arena of intellectual and political life in New York. He wrote extensively for such publications as Partisan Review and The Nation , as well as for the standard scholarly journals. With these many different interests and engagements he occupied a position, especially in the intellectual life of New York City, that extended far beyond the boundaries of academic philosophy. Within the university Nagel interacted with colleagues in the sciences in a way that was unusual then, and is unusual now, for philosophers. For example, he gave for many years a famous seminar with Paul Lazarfeld on the methodology of the social sciences, which was widely attended by social scientists as well as philosophers at Columbia. His interest in current research in physics continued well into retirement. It is not common practice for philosophers to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and there is no special section to which they naturally belong. His election was a tribute to Ernest Nagel's wide-ranging interests and extensive substantive knowledge of many different branches of science. It is fair to say that the range of his scientific interests and knowledge exceeded that of any other philosopher of science of his generation in the United States.