David Riesman, Thoughtful Pragmatist

The chief value that David Riesman, who just died at age 92, affirmed in his 1950 landmark study of American character, The Lonely Crowd, was autonomy -- neither glad-handing membership in an "other-directed" crowd, nor back-glancing retreat to an asceticism of the "inner-directed" fathers of the past, but a commitment to pursue one's own way.

In person, Riesman was nothing if not autonomous -- which meant, along the way, impolitic (though polite) and unpredictable (though deliberate).