For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Crispin Sartwell.

Crispin Sartwell

Crispin Sartwell
Born (1958-06-20) June 20, 1958 (age 65)
RelativesHerman Bernstein (great-grandfather)
Academic background
EducationUniversity of Maryland, College Park (BA)
Johns Hopkins University (MA)
University of Virginia (PhD)
Doctoral advisorRichard Rorty
Academic work
Political science
InstitutionsDickinson College
Vanderbilt University
University of Alabama
Maryland Institute College of Art
Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Crispin Gallagher Sartwell (born June 20, 1958)[1] is an American academic, philosopher, and journalist who was a faculty member of the philosophy department at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania until he retired in 2023.[2] He has taught philosophy, communication, and political science at Vanderbilt University, University of Alabama, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, the Maryland Institute College of Art, and Dickinson College.[3]

Early life and education

Born in Washington, D.C., Sartwell is the son of Franklin Gallagher Sartwell, a reporter, editor, and photographer. His grandfather, also Franklin Gallagher Sartwell, was a columnist and editorial page editor at the Washington Times-Herald. His great-grandfather, Herman Bernstein broke the story of a secret correspondence between Kaiser Wilhelm and Nicholas II of Russia during World War I in The New York Times.[4] Sartwell worked as a freelance rock critic for publications, including Record and Melody Maker.[5]

His mother, Joyce Abell, and stepfather, Richard Abell, were teachers in Montgomery County, Maryland and organic vegetable farmers in Rappahannock County, Virginia.

Sartwell received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, a Master of Arts from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from the University of Virginia, where his dissertation supervisor was Richard Rorty. Sartwell wrote his dissertation on art and articulation, discussing pictorial representation in John Dewey, Martin Heidegger, Nelson Goodman, and Hans-Georg Gadamer.


A journalist since he was 20, Sartwell's syndicated column, distributed by Creators Syndicate, appeared in numerous newspapers through the 1990s and 2000s, including The Philadelphia Inquirer and Los Angeles Times. He has continued to write for the popular press, with work appearing in The New York Times as a contributing writer to the Times's philosophy section, The Stone. He has been published in The Atlantic, Harper's Bazaar, The Washington Post, All Things Considered and other venues. He has appeared on Washington Journal, discussing political philosophy and ethics. Sartwell remains actively involved in music criticism, including writing a country music column for the New York Press.

Sartwell is a regular contributor to the webzine Splice Today.[6]

From 1989 through 1993, Sartwell was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Vanderbilt University. From 1995 to 1996, Sartwell was an Annenberg Scholar in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sartwell is best known as a political philosopher, with significant interests in analytic philosophy, aesthetics, and epistemology. As a political philosopher, he has been an advocate of anarchism and individual rights as opposed to the rights of the state. In his 2008 work, Against the State: An Introduction to Anarchist Political Philosophy, he refuted the traditional justifications for the state from Hobbes through Nozick. This was followed by his 2010 work, Political Aesthetics, in which he evaluated various systems based on the assumption that political systems are in part aesthetic systems.

Sartwell's interest in language as a system and its constraints and problems has been a constant in his career. Perhaps his clearest expression of this was in his 2000 publication, End of Story: Toward an Annihilation of Language and History, which posited an academic obsession with language qua language and narrative at the expense of a better conceptual and open dialogue.

As a philosopher of aesthetics as well as of language, Sartwell has seen the issues of beauty as being a constant in the search for meaning. His 2014 book How to Escape: Magic, Madness, Beauty and Cynicism, looked at a wide variety of artistic expressions and experiences from an aesthetics perspective. This followed his previous work, 2004's Six Names of Beauty, in which he used different words for beauty in a variety of languages including Greek, Sanskrit, Japanese, and Navajo as a gateway to understanding the cultural diversity and similarities between ideas and manifestations of beauty.[7][8] Later books include Entanglements: A System of Philosophy (2017) and Beauty: A Quick Immersion (2022).

On March 3, 2016, Sartwell was placed on leave from his faculty position at Dickinson College in response to posts on his blog in which he accused other philosophy professors of plagiarism.[9] According to Sartwell, the action is related to a video, embedded in the blog post, of Miranda Lambert singing "Time to Get a Gun."[10] Additional problematic material was found on his blog, but given little to no mind by the college's administration.[11] In September, 2016, The Dickinsonian reported that Sartwell had returned to his position and would resume teaching in the spring of 2017.[12]


  • The Art of Living: Aesthetics of the Ordinary in World Spiritual Traditions. Albany: SUNY, 1995.
  • Obscenity, Anarchy, Reality. Albany: SUNY, 1996.[13][14]
  • Act Like You Know: African-American Autobiography and White Identity. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1998.[15][16][17]
  • End of Story: Toward an Annihilation of Language and History. Albany: SUNY, 2000.
  • Extreme Virtue: Leadership and Truth in Five Great American Lives. Albany: SUNY, 2003.
  • Six Names of Beauty. New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Exquisite Rebel: The Essays of Voltairine de Cleyre — Anarchist, Feminist, Genius (Co-edited with Sharon Presley). Albany: SUNY, 2005.
  • Against the State: An Introduction to Anarchist Political Theory. Albany: SUNY, 2008.
  • Political Aesthetics. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2010.[18]
  • Editor, The Practical Anarchist: Writings of Josiah Warren. New York: Fordham, 2011.
  • How to Escape: Magic, Madness, Beauty, and Cynicism. Albany: SUNY, 2014.
  • Entanglements: A System of Philosophy. Albany: SUNY Press, 2017.
  • Beauty: A Quick Immersion. New York: Tibidabo Publishing, Inc., 2022.

In addition to his major publications, Sartwell has published over 40 professional articles in a variety of academic journals including the British Journal of Aesthetics, Philosophy Today, American Philosophical Quarterly and others.


  • Sartwell, Crispin (January 29, 2017). "The Wax Presidency Wanes as a Human Comes to the White House". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on April 28, 2021. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  • Sartwell, Crispin (February 23, 2021). "Opinion: Humans Are Animals. Let's Get Over It". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2021.

See also


  1. ^ goodreads
  2. ^ "Well, I have retired from Dickinson College, as of yesterday". July 1, 2023
  3. ^ Sartwell, Crispin. Against the State: An Introduction to Anarchist Political Theory. SUNY Press, 2008. p. 14.
  4. ^ The Willy-Nicky Correspondence, with a foreword by Teddy Roosevelt (Toronto: S.B. Gundy, 1918)
  5. ^ Sartwell, Crispin, blog post with links, April 22, 2015. Retrieved 2017-01-31.
  6. ^ "Splice Today |". Splice Today. Retrieved 2021-11-13.
  7. ^ Le Morvan, Pierre (2002). "Is Mere True Belief Knowledge?". Erkenntnis. 56 (2): 151–68. doi:10.1023/A:1015649505115. JSTOR 20013113. S2CID 189869049.
  8. ^ Lycan, William G. (1994). "Sartwell's Minimalist Analysis of Knowing". Philosophical Studies. 73 (1): 1–3. doi:10.1007/bf00989741. JSTOR 4320457. S2CID 170460285.
  9. ^ Rachel Bunn (2016-03-04). "Dickinson professor placed on leave following a series of blog posts". The Patriot-News. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  10. ^ Lizzy Hardison (2016-03-03). "Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave". The Dickinsonian. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  11. ^ "cheese it, the cops!". 2016-03-09. Archived from the original on 2016-03-09. Retrieved 2022-11-02.
  12. ^ Rachael Franchini (2016-09-08). "Sartwell Returns". The Dickinsonian. Retrieved 2016-12-13.
  13. ^ Stuhr, John J. (1996). "Rev. of Sartwell, Obscenity, Anarchy, Reality". The Personalist Forum. 12 (2): 191–92. JSTOR 20708734.
  14. ^ Jeffrey, Timm (1997). "Rev. of Sartwell, Obscenity, Anarchy, Reality". Philosophy East and West. 47 (3): 447–48. doi:10.2307/1399919. JSTOR 1399919.
  15. ^ Lazarre, Jane (1999). "Rev. of Sartwell, Act Like You Know". American Literature. 71 (3): 598–99. JSTOR 2902751.
  16. ^ Watkins, James H. (1999). "Rev. of Sartwell, Act Like You Know". South Atlantic Review. 64 (1): 176–79. doi:10.2307/3201777. JSTOR 3201777.
  17. ^ Olney, James (1999). "Rev. of Sartwell, Act Like You Know". African American Review. 33 (4): 696–97. doi:10.2307/2901359. JSTOR 2901359.
  18. ^ Voice, Paul (2011). "Rev. of Sartwell, Political Aesthetics". The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. 69 (4): 434–36. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6245.2011.01485_10.x. JSTOR 23883698.

Audio/video media

{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Crispin Sartwell
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 ๐ŸŽ‰! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?