On This Day … 02 August [2022]

People (Deaths)

Paul Goodman

Paul Goodman (1911–1972) was an American writer and public intellectual best known for his 1960s works of social criticism. Goodman was prolific across numerous literary genres and non-fiction topics, including the arts, civil rights, decentralisation, democracy, education, media, politics, psychology, technology, urban planning, and war. As a humanist and man of letters, his works often addressed a common theme of the individual citizen’s duties in the larger society, and the responsibility to exercise autonomy, act creatively, and realise one’s own human nature.

Born to a Jewish family in New York City, Goodman was raised by his aunts and sister and attended City College of New York. As an aspiring writer, he wrote and published poems and fiction before receiving his doctorate from the University of Chicago. He returned to writing in New York City and took sporadic magazine writing and teaching jobs, several of which he lost for his overt bisexuality and World War II draft resistance. Goodman discovered anarchism and wrote for libertarian journals. His radicalism was rooted in psychological theory. He co-wrote the theory behind Gestalt therapy based on Wilhelm Reich’s radical Freudianism and held psychoanalytic sessions through the 1950s while continuing to write prolifically.

His 1960 book of social criticism, Growing Up Absurd, established his importance as a mainstream cultural theorist. Goodman became known as “the philosopher of the New Left” and his anarchistic disposition was influential in 1960s counterculture and the free school movement. Despite being the foremost American intellectual of non-Marxist radicalism in his time, his celebrity did not endure far beyond his life. Goodman is remembered for his utopian proposals and principled belief in human potential.

On This Day … 02 August

People (Deaths)

Paul Goodman

Paul Goodman (1911-1972) was an American author and public intellectual best known for his 1960s works of social criticism. Born to a Jewish family in New York City, Goodman was raised by his aunts and sister and attended City College of New York.

As an aspiring writer, he wrote and published poems and fiction before attending graduate school in Chicago. He returned to writing in New York City and took sporadic magazine writing and teaching jobs, many of which he lost for his outward bisexuality and World War II draft resistance. Goodman discovered anarchism and wrote for libertarian journals. He became one of the founders of gestalt therapy and took patients through the 1950s while continuing to write prolifically.

His 1960 book of social criticism, Growing Up Absurd, established his importance as a mainstream cultural theorist. Goodman became known as “the philosopher of the New Left” and his anarchistic disposition was influential in 1960s counterculture and the free school movement. His celebrity did not endure far beyond his life, but Goodman is remembered for his principles, outré proposals, and vision of human potential.