Saul Aaron Kripke: Invited to apply for a teaching post at Harvard while still in high school.
A rabbi’s son, Saul Aaron Kripke was born in New York and grew up in Omaha in 1940. By all accounts he was a true prodigy.
In the fourth grade he discovered algebra, and by the end of grammar school he had mastered geometry and calculus and taken up philosophy. While still a teenager he wrote a series of papers that eventually transformed the study of modal logic. One of them earned a letter from the math department at Harvard, which hoped he would apply for a job until he wrote back and declined, explaining, “My mother said that I should finish high school and go to college first”. After finishing high school, the college he eventually chose was Harvard.
Kripke was awarded the Schock Prize, philosophy’s equivalent of the Nobel. Nowadays, he is thought to be the world’s greatest living philosopher.
In a recent poll conducted by philosophers Kripke was among the top ten most important philosophers of the past 200 years.