Charles Frankel

Charles Frankel books and biography

Charles Frankel

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Charles Frankel (December 13, 1917 – May 10, 1979) was an American philosopher.

Born in New York City, he was the son of Abraham Philip and Estelle Edith (Cohen) Frankel. He married Helen Beatrice Lehman, August 17, 1941. Together they had two children, Susan and Carl. Education: Columbia University, A.B. (with honors), 1937, Ph.D., 1946; Cornell University, graduate study, 1937-38. Military/Wartime Service: U.S. Navy, 1942-46; became lieutenant. Memberships: American Philosophical Association, American Association of University Professors (chair of committee on professional ethics), Institut International de Philosophie Politique, Authors Guild, Century Association, Phi Beta Kappa.

He wrote on value theory, social philosophy, and philosophy of history. He was the founder of the Humanities Center in North Carolina, and was Assistant Secretary of State, in charge of education and culture, from 1965 to 1967. He resigned this post in protest of the Vietnam War.

Charles Frankel was concerned with American government, mainly the democracy. He lived in the time of the cold war when the two great powers in the world were the U.S and the Soviet Union. He made a case for democracy when comparing it to Totalitarianism. Democracy, if a bad decision in the government is made, can be changed because democracy is a never-ending and constantly reforming process which causes the government to become better and better through debate of different ideas and perspectives. A Totalitarian government, on the other hand, cannot retrace its steps. Once a choice has been made in the government, there is no way to go back and change it- the people do not have a say and the dictator rules all. In order for democracy to work, it needs certain qualities: courts, judicial systems; bills, a written law; and the press to keep the public informed and also to keep the power of the people iin the government in check by revealing their every step and move they make to the public. In democracy, we also need something called a "loyal opposition" although there is a losing party, that party is able to dissagree with the winning and ruling party but it must remain loyal to the country and whichever party has won the election. The winning party is also not allowed to harm the losing party and the losing party may always run again in a later election.

On May 10, 1979, both he and his wife were shot and killed by a robber in Bedford Hills, New York.


  • The Faith of Reason
  • The Case for Modern Man
  • Religion--Within Reason
  • The Democratic Prospect


  • Time" Magazine
  • Biography Resource Center
  • Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2007. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007.

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