Chair of the Department of Philosophy: Larry Jorgensen
Professors: William Lewis, Reginald Lilly
Associate Professors: Silvia Carli, Joel R. Smith, Larry Jorgensen
Visiting Assistant Professor: Peter Murray
The earliest endeavors of the Western intellectual tradition were concerned with understanding the nature of the universe and the place of human beings within it. The first academy was, likewise, an institution dedicated to the pursuit of such knowledge. Philosophy's systematic pursuit of answers to the ultimate questions of existence harkens to a mission that, quite literally, was at the historical origin of the academy (indeed, of Western civilization). Today, the discipline proves no less than it did 2,500 years ago to be an animating principle of intellectual life and culture. The broadening of its mission to include philosophy as it has developed not only in the west but throughout the world serves to strengthen its foundational status.
Given philosophy's broad scope, long history, and the inherent difficulty of "mastering" the subject, we see the following objectives as crucial. First, the development of critical, analytical habits of mind in our students through the close reading of major works in the history of philosophy as well as contemporary reflections on philosophy's perennial subjects: metaphysics, theories of knowledge, politics, aesthetics, ethics, and logic. Our second goal is the development of oral and written communication skills that produce the self-confidence to engage in sustained examination of difficult ideas. These skills are developed through active engagement in classroom discussions and though extensive writing assignments that include essay examinations, response papers, journals, term papers, research papers, and senior theses. Next, through the requirement that all courses be grounded in and make ready reference to the intellectual concerns of the time in which they were written, we strive to develop a sense of context-historical and conceptual-that saves critical analysis from becoming historically irrelevant. Finally, through assignments that engage students where they are in their own lives, the program strives to develop the capacity to research and synthesize new ideas and to communicate these insights with others.
Courses in religion are offered in the Department of Philosophy and Religion as electives for the entire student body and may count toward a major in religious studies but may not be counted toward a philosophy major.
PH 112H - The Cave: Philosophy in the Shadows