Programs | Philosophy of Institutions Project

Josiah Lee Auspitz

Curriculum Vitae

Josiah Lee Auspitz has for the past three decades pursued a sustained philosophical inquiry. 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, established its international program in scholarly assistance, and now directs its projects in philosophy.

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 in Africa and Eastern Europe as well as in the United States.

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.

The Sabre Foundation has served as the institutional home of the International Seminar for Philosophy and Political Theory. During the period 1987-92 it 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).

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. In 1969-70 he served as rapporteur and research director of the President's Advisory Council on Executive Organization which set up 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 fifty countries with four million new texts distributed in partnership with local NGOs in each country. Created to support free inquiry in Eastern Europe, the program is now active in the Balkans, Central Asia and throughout Africa.

At home, Auspitz continues in the 27th year of involvement in the Davis Square Task Force, a volunteer neighborhood revitalization group in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he lives. He has addressed national meetings of city planners who regard Somerville as exemplary in preserving class and ethnic diversity in a gentrifying area. Other memberships include the Family Center (advisory board), Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate (board of directors).

In recent years, Auspitz has drawn on his philosophical work to bring to computational design an architecture derived from the late logic of Charles Sanders Peirce. This work has led to service on the boards of software R&D; companies, and in 2000, to the co-founding of a private Laboratory for Computational Analytics and Semiotics.

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.


Early journalism and politics, 1960-75

Auspitz worked as editor and writer on the Harvard Crimson, Mosaic, Harvard Review, Liberian Star, Helsinki Youth News, Jerusalem Post, West African Pilot, and Ripon Forum. In addition, he was a regular contributor to the Editorial and Outlook sections of the Washington Post from 1969-72. He also contributed articles and reviews to such publications as Harpers, New Republic, Commentary, Washington Monthly, and the New York Times Book Review.

Essays on Philosophers

His longer published articles since 1976 have included pieces promoting broader recognition of under-appreciated philosophical writers who provide new logical grounds for a theory of modern institutions:

On Charles Sanders Peirce

"The Greatest Living American Philosopher," review essay on the papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, Commentary, December 1983, and Letters, March 1984.

"The Wasp Leaves the Bottle," review essay on Charles Peirce, American Scholar, Fall, 1994.

On Michael Oakeshott

"Individuality, Civility, Theory: The Philosophical Imagination of Michael Oakeshott", Political Theory, August 1976.

"Up From Babel," A Review of "On History and Other Essays", National Review, February 10, 1984,

"Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990)," American Scholar, Summer 1991.

On Tadeusz Kotarbinski and Polish Philosophy

"Why Praxiology Needs a New Philosophical Definition", Praxiology, 1983.

"O spolnosci prakseologii i etyki w filozofii Tadeusza Kotarbinskiego", Prakseologia, 1988. also in English: "A Note on the Coherence of Praxiology and Ethics in the Philosophy of Tadeusz Kotarbinski" in Auspitz, et. al., editors, "Praxiologies and the Philosophy of Economics", The International Annual of Practical Philosophy and Methodology, Vol. 1, 1992.

"Where Philosophy Matters," Commentary, June 1989.