Departmental “Shadow Figures”

A few days ago, Eric Schliesser had up a post at APPS about those profs who are widely influential even if they don’t publish a lot:

I call them “shadow figures,” because characters like this don’t tend to be noticed outside–they are not cited much and their influence is diffuse. (When I was a student [undergraduate and PhD] the name “Dreben” was bandied around by folk-in-the-Harvard-know, but I had no clue who this could even be.) Moreover, due to an otherwise sensible peculiarity of the Leiter rankings — where folk are not allowed to vote on the department from which they received their highest graduate degrees — they also rarely impact public ranking.

Let’s add this to the list of reasons to be question why anyone takes Philosophical Gourmet or any other rankings absolutely seriously, as in students who won’t go to a #7 school even if it fits their interests perfectly if they get into a #6 instead. I can think of a great list of people who have influenced me but who may not be well-known, though I wouldn’t mention them here since it would come off as a back-handed compliment. But surely those “shadow” figures are more influential than someone pumping out numerous monographs read by just a few people….