Jackson Paul Hershbell was born in November 1935 in Northampton, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Lafayette College with a Bachelor’s degree in 1955, and from the University of Pennsylvania with a Master’s degree in 1956. He received a PhD in Philosophy and Classics from Harvard University in 1964.
Hershbell became an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Coordinator of Humanities at the University of North Dakota in 1966. He remained in this position until 1969, when he accepted a position at the University of Minnesota.