Marc Sanders (1939-2011) was a philanthropist, businessman, and writer who spent the last forty years of his life learning, writing, and working on systematic philosophy.
In the late seventies, Sanders formed and funded The Institute for Natural Philosophy. Its aim was to encourage theoretical and epistemological inquiries in the sciences. The Institute sought to promote inquiries too unusual in their scope and methods to lie within a single scientific discipline or funding source. The Institute sought to counteract the kind of specialization that stunted the intellectual development of science, and to facilitate the integration of scientific results into a more inclusive philosophical framework.
The interdisciplinary board of The Institute for Natural Philosophy, and its supporters, consisted of scientists, philosophers, and theorists such as B.F. Skinner, Stephen Jay Gould, Thomas Kuhn, Freeman Dyson, Jerome Lettvin, Dean Montgomery, Ashley Montagu, and Jerry Fodor. Part of the inspiration behind The Institute for Natural Philosophy reappears in Sanders’ later work as an attack on the idea that science alone can deliver a comprehensive worldview.
The Institute for Natural Philosophy was a precursor of the Ammonius Foundation, a non-profit foundation created and funded by Marc Sanders for the promotion of traditional metaphysics and philosophy of religion. During the twelve-year life of the Ammonius Foundation, two prizes for young scholars (one in metaphysics, one in philosophy of religion) both administered by editors from Oxford University Press were founded and awarded annually.
Since the beginning of 2013, the Marc Sanders Foundation has expanded the prizes for young scholars to include prizes across the field of philosophy, including philosophy of mind, epistemology, political philosophy, metaethics, and others. More recently, the Foundation has partnered with various organizations and institutions including the American Philosophical Association, Princeton University, Rutgers University, University of North Carolia (Chapel Hill), Columbia University, UT Austin, and Oxford University Press to add additional prizes, lectureships, and conferences.
The Director of the Sanders Foundation is Marc’s son, Eric Sanders.