Philosopher Felix Adler 1919 Signed Letter - Ethical Culture, Euthanasia, Social
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Philosopher Felix Adler 1919 Signed Letter - Ethical Culture, Euthanasia, Social:
Adler, Felix (1851-1933). German-American professor of political & social ethics, rationalist and lecturer on euthanasia who founded the Ethical Culture movement. TYPED LETTER SIGNED by the influential German-American philosopher FELIX ADLER in reply to an invitation by James B. Pond to join his reception committee for Maeterlinck's first American lecture. New York, December 12, 1919. Over 50 words typed on Adler's 9-1/4 inch high by 8-1/2 inch wide "The Society for Ethical Culture of New York" stationery. Responding to the American impresario and lecture agent James B. Pond's invitation to join as a member of the reception committee welcoming Maurice Maeterlinck to America, Felix Adler thanks Major Pond for the invitation and apologizes as he has "a long-standing engagement for the evening of January 2, and in any case I fear that I ought not to join the Committee". Signed in full "Felix Adler". Folded for mailing, the letter is slightly darkened along the right edge and there is a small piece out from the top left corner. Very good. The German-American philosopher Felix Adler (1851-1933) was a professor of political and social ethics. A rationalist, social reformer and religious leader, he was an influential lecturer on the subject of euthanasia arguing as Robert Ingersoll did for the rights of individuals suffering from terminal illnesses to end their pain through suicide. Adler, unlike Ingersoll, did not reject religion and argued from an ethical perspective. Born in Germany, the son of a rabbi, he moved to New York with his family when he was 6 years old. After graduating from Columbia University, Adler continued his studies at Heidelberg University with intent to become a rabbi. He was influenced by the neo-Kantian argument that, as one can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a deity or an afterlife, morality is independent of theology. Asked to give a sermon at New York's Temple Emmanu-El, where his father was head rabbi, he shocked the congregation with his sermon titled "The Judaism of the Future" which made no mention of God and made the case for a universal religion of morality. It is not surprising that this was not only the first but also the last time he was invited to lecture at the temple. He took a position as a Professor of Hebrew and Oriental literature at Cornell University where he was popular with the students but stirred controversy. He was later offered and accepted the chair of political and social ethics at Columbia University. With Joseph Seligman's assistance, Adler founded the Society Of Ethical Culture. Adler argued for the importance of "deed not creed" and set up teams of visiting nurses to serve the homebound poor who were ill and also set up a Free Kindergarten for the children of the working poor. He was the founding chairman of the National Child Labor Committee and served on the Civil Liberties Bureau (which later became the ACLU). James B. Pond, the American impresario and lecture agent who headed the J.B. Pond Lyceum Bureau, brought the great Belgian poet Maurice Maeterlinck to America for a series of lectures. The first lecture took place at Carnegie hall on January 2nd, 1920. Unfortunately Maeterlinck failed to carry out his intention to lecture in English because of his labored "phonetic" English. He declared his intention to continue his lectures in French and have the translation read by another person. As a result, the lecture tour was a failure and lawsuits ensued on both sides.
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