Stanley H. Rosen was born on July 29, 1929 in Warren, Ohio, to Nathan Rosen, a pharmacist, and his wife Celia, both Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, and grew up in Cleveland.  He attended a middle school for gifted children, but by high school he had lost interest in his classes, though he was a valued member of the football and basketball teams.  He aspired to be a novelist and spent several months in New York after graduation before deciding to apply to the University of Chicago in 1948.  That institution’s unconventional admissions system disregarded his mediocre high school grades and, on the basis of his scores on their entrance exams, exempted him from most of the undergraduate curriculum. He spent most of his time reading independently and writing poetry, one of a cohort of brilliant and eccentric students which included Severn Darden, a founding member of the improvisational Compass Theater, the forerunner of The Second City, and Seth Benardete, who went on to become a distinguished professor of philosophy at New York University and The New School[1].  After completing his bachelor’s degree in just nine months, Dr. Rosen enrolled as a graduate student in the Philosophy Department at Chicago; his book of poetry, Death in Egypt, was published in 1952.   In that year he transferred from the Philosophy Department to the interdisciplinary Committee on Social Thought, where he completed his doctorate as a student of the influential political philosopher Leo Strauss.  Dr. Rosen later wrote about his relationships with fellow students like Benardete, and with Strauss and other teachers, as well as his initiation into the cosmopolitan social world of this dynamic academic community, in the autobiographical essay “Chicago Days.” A favorite memory from his student days was serving lunch to T.S. Eliot while working as a waiter at the university’s Quadrangle Club (see the essay Kojève's Paris.”)

While still a teenager in Cleveland Heights, Dr. Rosen met Françoise Harlepp, whose family was dismayed when she went with him to the University of Chicago rather than following in her mother’s footsteps by attending Vassar.  They were married in 1955, despite early misgivings on the part of both families. Stanley's family were traditional Ashkenazy Jews accustomed to maintaining ties within their own religion and culture, while Françoise had been raised as an Episcopalian by her American mother and French father, an engineer who despaired of the aspiring poet and philsopher’s ability to provide for his daughter.  In 1955-56, Stanley and Françoise Rosen studied in Greece for one year as Fellows of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens; Mrs. Rosen had earned an M.A. in Classics from the University of Chicago.  In 1956, Dr. Rosen joined the Philosophy Department at the Pennsylvania State University, where he would remain on the faculty for thirty-eight years; Mrs. Rosen taught French, Latin, and Greek at Penn State for a number of years.  The Rosens raised their three children, Nicholas (b. 1964), Paul (b. 1969), and Valerie (b. 1973) in State College, where they had a wide network of friends and were involved with local musical groups and cultural organizations such as the Alliance Française.  Dr. Rosen was beloved by his students, family, friends, and neighbors for his great intelligence, generosity, and loyalty, and was known for his love of classical music and his irreverent sense of humor.  

Though settled in the relative isolation of the quiet college town of State College for nearly four decades, Dr. Rosen travelled widely throughout the United States and Europe, often bringing his family with him.  Between 1960 and 2003, he was a visiting scholar or professor at the Sorbonne, University of Paris (Fulbright Research Professor, 1960-61); University of Wisconsin (1963-64); the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, CA (1970); University of Heidelberg (1971); London School of Economics (1973); University of California at San Diego (1978); Brigham Young University (1978); University of Nice (1980); Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa (1989); University of Dallas (1991); University of Barcelona (1992); University of Notre Dame (1993); University of California Berkeley (1994); University of Toronto, University College (1997); Catholic University at Leuven, Belgium (1998); and the Institut Catholique in Paris (2003). 

Dr. Rosen was an acclaimed and beloved teacher to several generations of undergraduate and graduate students, the latter often welcomed into his home as extended family. Beginning in 1972, Dr. Rosen was a Fellow of the Institute for the Arts and Humanistic Studies at Penn State, and in 1985 he was appointed Evan Pugh Professor of Philosophy.  After retiring from Penn State in 1994, he joined the faculty of Boston University and served as Borden Parker Bowne Professor of Philosophy and University Professor for fourteen years before retiring with emeritus status in 2008.   Dr. Rosen’s twenty books and over one hundred twenty-five articles and book chapters include major contributions to the study of Plato, Hegel, Heidegger, and Nietzsche.  He served as President of the Metaphysical Society of America in 1990-91, and his honors and awards included an honorary doctorate from the University of Lisbon in 1997 and foreign membership in the Serbian National Academy.  The international scope of Dr. Rosen’s influence is reflected in the many languages into which his writings have been translated, including French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Serbian, and Chinese. 

Dr. and Mrs. Rosen retired to Philadelphia to live near their daughter and her family in 2009. Though he suffered from Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Rosen remained actively engaged in his work until the end of his life, with three books published in the year before his death and two more forthcoming. His spontaneity and vitality, genuine engagement with those around him, and distinctive humor continued to endear him to old and new friends for as long as he lived.     After a brief illness, Dr. Rosen died on May 4, 2014 in Philadelphia.


[1] For an enlightening account of the many distinguished and eccentric characters inhabiting the University of Chicago in the early 1950’s, including recollections of various sophisticated pranks committed by the young Stanley Rosen and his friends, see “The University of Chicago” in Encounters and Reflections: Conversations with Seth Benardete, edited by Ronna Burger, University of Chicago Press (2002).