Irwin Edman was an American philosopher and professor of philosophy. He was born in New York City to Jewish parents. Edman spent his high-school years at Townsend Harris Hall, a New York high school for superior pupils. He then attended Columbia University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1917, and his Ph.D. in 1920. He became a professor of philosophy at Columbia, and during the course of his career he rose to serve as head of the philosophy department. He also served as a visiting lecturer at Oxford University, Amherst College, the University of California, and Harvard and Wesleyan Universities. The United States Department of State and the Brazilian government in 1945 sponsored a series of lectures he gave in Rio de Janeiro.
Edman was known for the “charm and clarity” of his writing, and for being an open-minded critic. He was a popular professor and served as a mentor to undergraduate students, notably Pulitzer Prize-winning author Herman Wouk, who dedicated his first novel to Edman.
In addition to writing philosophical works, Irwin Edman was a frequent contributor to literary magazines such as The New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Commentary, and Horizon.