Sheldon Wolin, professor of politics, emeritus, passed away Oct. 21, 2015.
What a nice man Sheldon was. I enjoyed interacting with him when I worked for the Politics Dept. in mid-80’s. I think of him often as I pass their former Princeton home. – Stacie T.
Prof. Wolin was both an intellectual giant and a fundamentally nice person. I first met him as a sophomore back in 1986, when I took his Radical Thought course in the Politics Department. That course and interacting with him outside it made me a better analytical thinker, but also inspired me to think about political possibilities — few people can pull that off in a lifetime, much less a semester. He will be remembered fondly.
Professor Wolin supervised my junior paper on St. Augustine as a political thinker. A few years later, in a seminar at Yale Law School, I mentioned that I had studied with him. One of the other students, not a Princeton graduate, was just in awe and told me how much Politics and Vision had meant to him. He was a great writer and teacher and influenced generations of students interested in political theory.
What many don’t say, and perhaps don’t know, is that we students encouraged him as much as he encouraged students. The term “participatory democracy” came out of the Northern
student movement of the 1960s. One of his great attributes was his openness to ideas of democracy from others, as well as his considered academic, and activist, support for the democratic actions of others. And so he considered democratic activists to be his equals,
and could be respectful friends with us , while giving us the special encouragement his research and formulations provided in ways we could not do for ourselves.
After decades of reading politically oriented nonfiction books, I came upon Sheldon Wolin’s books in the nick of time. I couldn’t read the same thing anymore. The corporate takeover and privatization of services and utilities took me to a dark place.
Instead I started reading Sheldon Wolin’s book and I felt like I reached the mountain top. I knew the information but his explanations and skill as a writer clarified everything to the last exponent. I could just reread him all day. I ordered every book he wrote.
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