JOSIAH LEE AUSPITZ← back to Philosophy of Institutions Page
Josiah Lee Auspitz has for the past three decades pursued a sustained philosophical inquiry into the nature and logic of modern institutions. His studies have been punctuated, and occasionally enriched, by a variety of practical endeavors.
Since 1978, much of his work has taken place within the Sabre Foundation. He served on Sabre's founding board of directors in 1969, established its international program in scholarly assistance in 1985, and now directs its projects in philosophy. He will leave Sabre in 2006 to devote himself to writing.
Mr. Auspitz was educated at Philadelphia Central High School (National Merit Scholar), Gratz College (Hebrew Teacher's diploma, 1959), Harvard College (Phi Beta Kappa 1962, B.A. in Social Studies 1963), Brasenose College, Oxford (Marshall Scholar, 1963-64). He completed courses and examination requirements for a doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1967.
As an independent scholar, Mr. Auspitz has combined philosophical inquiry into problems common to modern institutions with practical work in a wide range of such institutions.
His scholarly work has been assisted by a Junior Research Fellowship at the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, an Independent Research Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1975-76), by a Senior Research Fellowship from IREX, the International Research Exchange Board of the American Council of Learned Societies (Polish Academic of Sciences 1986-87, Warsaw and Jagiellonian Universities 1988). He was awarded an Earhard Foundation Fellowship in 1996. The Sabre Foundation (1978 to present, intermittently) has also received contributions from more than fifty individuals and institutions for philosophical projects under his direction. He has been guest lecturer at several colleges, universities and conferences.
Under his direction, the Sabre Foundation organized and co-organized a series of conferences bearing on reconceptualization of institutions in post-Communist countries-- in Warsaw (1988, 1990), Lviv (1991), James Madison's Montpelier (1991, 1992), and Budapest (1989). Most recently it convoked of the inaugural conference of the Michael Oakeshott Association (London School of Economics, 2001), now an independent organization.
His non-scholarly activities have involved work at international, federal, regional, state, city and neighborhood levels across a broad spectrum of volunteer, consulting, fiduciary, teaching, staff, planning, managerial, political and advocacy roles. He was national president the Ripon Society, a Republican research and policy group active in the late 1960s. He was active also in food relief efforts in Paris and Washington with the American Committee for Nigerian Relief during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.
In 1969-70 he served as rapporteur and research director of the President's Advisory Council on Executive Organization which proposed the Office of Management and Budget established by Congress in Reorganization Act #1 of 1970. Auspitz subsequently was among those testifying in favor of setting up a Congressional Budget Office to complement and check the Executive's OMB.
In the mid-1980s, with the support of the Sabre Foundation board, he began a program to donate Western textbooks and scientific journals to Eastern European faculties and institutes eager for contact with the outside world. Sabre Foundation affiliates were among the first NGOs chartered in several Communist countries. The program has grown to serve more than eighty countries with five million new texts distributed in partnership with local NGOs in each country. Created to support free inquiry in Eastern Europe, Sabre’s book donation program is now active all over the world, with its own staff and warehousing facilities.
At home, Auspitz continues in the 30th year of involvement in the Davis Square Task Force, a volunteer neighborhood revitalization group in Somerville, Massachusetts. He has addressed national meetings of city planners who regard Somerville’s Davis Square area as exemplary in preserving class and ethnic diversity in a gentrifying area.
Other current memberships include the Family Center (advisory board), Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate (board of directors). He has served also on the boards of educational and religious organizations.
In recent years, Auspitz has drawn on his philosophical work to bring to computational design a content-independent architecture derived from a reworking of the late semiotic of Charles Sanders Peirce. This work has led to a patent and to service on the boards of start-up software companies.
His articles, several of which are also available in book form, have appeared in a variety of scholarly and popular publications.
A book manuscript in the philosophy of institutions The Centrality of Trust is in preparation.
He lives with his wife in Somerville, Massachusetts. They have two grown children.