REASON Profile: F.A. Harper


"…it is clear that if one would change the society in which he lives, in some major way, there must first occur a change in the philosophical position of key intellectual leaders. This will then bear fruit in its time. There is no other way. All history confirms this." Thus does the Institute for Humane Studies (1134 Crane St., Menlo Park, CA 94025) express the basic paradigm that governs its work. And its work is impressive—since its founding in 1961 it has been the leading center for libertarian-oriented basic research in the humanities and social sciences, publishing a large number of books and articles, sponsoring scholarly conferences, and providing fellowships and opportunities for research to students in such areas as historical revisionism, international economic problems, social conflict, property rights, and law and political theory.

The Institute was conceived and initially developed by Dr. F.A. Harper, currently its president and director. Born in 1905, Dr. Harper received his B.S. from Michigan State University in 1926, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1932. He was Assistant Professor of Marketing at Cornell in 1934-35, Acting Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the U. of Puerto Rico in 1937, and Professor of Marketing at Cornell from 1935-46. From 1946-58 he was economist for the Foundation for Economic Education and was then a researcher for the William Volker Fund.

Among the many honors bestowed upon Dr. Harper are Life Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, membership in the Mont Pelerin Society, listing in INTERNATIONAL WHO'S WHO and WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA, and membership in the California Academy of Sciences. A list of publications authored by Dr. Harper would run to several pages and would include his widely acclaimed "Inflation and Price Controls"(1968).

Dr. Harper's family includes his wife of 42 years, Marguerite, and four grown children. Dr. Harper's hobbies are few, in the usual sense, "because I find libertarian work such a pleasure that it amounts to almost constant 'recreation'." His interests include his "family and other friends, experimental plant-life culture, and all sorts of intellectual attractions as they constantly arise…such as philosophy, intellectual history (especially science) and current developments in what is commonly called 'creative thinking'." A modest man, Dr. Harper works very hard for the advancement of libertarian concepts, and the continued success of the Institute for Humane Studies is a tribute to the dedication he and his associates are bringing to the cause of liberty.