Philip Slater

Philip Slaterhilip Slater (May 15, 1927 — June 20, 2013) was the author of the influential 1970 best-seller The Pursuit of Loneliness, as well as nine other books of sociology and social commentary. He wrote more than 25 novels and plays. In a prescient 1964 Harvard Business Review article called “Democracy is Inevitable”, he and co-author Warren Bennis predicted the fall of the Soviet bloc and the rise of democracy, arguing “Democracy… is the only system that can successfully cope with the changing demands of contemporary civilization.”

Philip believed fervently in democracy’s adaptive superiority, an idea he would later develop in his last two books of non-fiction, A Dream Deferred (Beacon 1992) and The Chrysalis Effect (Sussex Academic Press 2008).

In the 1970s, he left academia to found Greenhouse, a personal growth center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Morrie Schwartz and Jacqueline Doyle. He then moved to Santa Cruz, California, and, following the principles elaborated in his book Wealth Addiction (Dutton 1980), divested himself of most of his material possessions.

In Santa Cruz, Philip transformed from critic to creator, becoming an actor, playwright and novelist. He returned to academia in his eighties, teaching in the doctoral program in Transformative Studies at the California Institute for Integral Studies.

Philip Slater

An accomplished sailor, Philip rarely went a day without spending time by the ocean. He was also a talented musician who played the piano, sang and composed and whose musical knowledge and passion were an inspiration to both his children and grandchildren.

Despite having cancer, he continued to act, write, blog and walk by the ocean until shortly before his death. In keeping with his critique of the medical model, he died at home, in the company of friends and family.

Philip SlaterHe is survived by his wife, photographer Susan Helgeson, his four grown children, Wendy Palmer, Scott Slater, Stephanie Slater and Dashka Slater, as well as five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


Philip Elliot Slater’s literary estate is managed by his daughter, Dashka Slater, and represented by Mary Krienke at Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. Please direct inquiries about plays, articles and other materials to:
dashkaslater AT gmail DOT com.

Additional Articles

The Fickle Grey Beast - September 4, 2013
R.I.P. Philip Slater, blog post by Leonard Quart

The Washington Post - July 1, 2013
Philip E. Slater, sociologist and social critic, dies at 86

New York Times - June 29, 2013
Philip E. Slater, Social Critic Who Renounced Academia, Dies at 86

Santa Cruz Sentinel - June 27, 2013
An unconventional man: Harvard-educated sociologist Philip Slater camr to Santa Cruz in pursuit of happiness

SFGate - June 26, 2013

Harvard Magazine - March-April 2013
The Sage of Tree Frog Lane: Philip Slater has happily progressed from fame to obscurity.

Harvard Magazine - March-April 2013
The World According to Slater