Born in Fredericksburg, Ohio, the son of a minister, Brand Blanshard was an American philosopher who studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar. The Oxford method of education and the philosophical school of idealism or rationalism that flourished there during the period around World War I profoundly influenced his career as a teacher and philosopher in the United States. He received a B.A. from the University of Michigan (1914), an M.A. from Columbia University (1918), and Harvard University (1921). Blanshard taught at Swarthmore College for twenty years (1925-1945) before becoming Chair of the department of philosophy at Yale University. His two-volume work The Nature of Thought (1939) is a critical survey of the theories of mind and knowledge that prevailed during the first half of the twentieth century and is also a constructive argument for the nature of reason as sovereign. Blanshard is widely known for his coherence theory of truth, that is, truth is apprehended as a whole or gestalt, rather than piecemeal. In his Gifford lectures at St. Andrews and his Carus lectures before the American Philosophical Association, Blanshard argued against what he considered the detractors of reason, moral relativism, noncognitivism, existentialism, and analytic philosophy in its various forms. Blanshard published these lectures in expanded and revised form in a trilogy on reason. Blanshard died in 1987.
Four Reasonable Men: Marcus Aurelius, John Stuart Mill, Ernest Renan, Henry Sidgwick