John Ridpath Tribute

March 28, 2021 |

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John Ridpath (1935 – March 23, 2021)

John Ridpath taught at York University in Toronto.

Like his close friend Allan Gotthelf and like George Reisman, John was reviled by his colleagues for his philosophical convictions but was over and over again voted as best teacher.

Like Alan Gotthelf and George Reisman, John was able to introduce three or four concepts in a lecture and students would come away with an understanding so clear that they would think them completely obvious.

John was formally a member of the Economics Department at York and formally taught Intellectual History but what he really taught was that a very few intellectually active, philosophically consistent people could change the course of history. His specialty was the amazing coincidence of a small group of men who created the philosophically consistent constitution of the United States, the only constitution ever that recognizes, and defends, the right of each person to have the freedom to better his or her own life. His Canadian(!) students loved it. I had the great good fortune of an open invitation to attend classes led by John during the ugly early 1970’s and, whenever I could escape work, I would go. It was like having the gas tank refilled.

Like the best of the self-interested, he was warm and generous to the point of shaking one’s head: How could someone be so much this way? For me, he was a wonderful mentor.


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