Saul Kripke is the oldest of three children born to Dorothy K. Kripke and Rabbi Myer S. Kripke. His father was the leader of Beth El Synagogue, the only Conservative congregation in Omaha, Nebraska, while his mother wrote educational Jewish books for children. Saul and his two sisters, Madeline and Netta, attended Dundee Grade School and Omaha Central High School. Kripke was labelled a prodigy, having taught himself Ancient Hebrew by the age of six, read the complete works of Shakespeare by nine, and mastered the works of Descartes and complex mathematical problems before graduating elementary school. He wrote his first completeness theorem in modal logic at the age of 17, and had it published a year later. After graduating from high school in 1958, Kripke attended Harvard University and graduated summa cum laude obtaining a bachelor's degree in mathematics. During his sophomore year at Harvard, Kripke taught a graduate-level logic course at nearby MIT. Upon graduation (1962) he received a Fulbright Fellowship, and in 1963 was appointed to the Society of Fellows.
After teaching briefly at Harvard, he moved to Rockefeller University in New York City in 1967, and then received a full-time position at Princeton University in 1977. In 1988 he received the university's Behrman Award for distinguished achievement in the humanities. In 2002 Kripke began teaching at the CUNY Graduate Center in midtown Manhattan, and was appointed a distinguished professor of philosophy there in 2003. He was married to philosopher Margaret Gilbert.
He has received honorary degrees from the University of Nebraska, Omaha (1977), Johns Hopkins University (1997), University of Haifa, Israel (1998), and the University of Pennsylvania (2005). He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He won the Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy in 2001.
He is the second cousin once removed of the notable television writer, director, and producer Eric Kripke.
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