Philosophy tackles questions that we all face as creatures alive to the world. The first question, perhaps, is how we should live our life. That question gives way to related questions about the nature of the world, what we can know, how words do things, our political arrangements, our belief in God, and our interest in the things we value (each other, the natural environment, works of art, music, movies, . . .). Many people think about these questions late in their life and anxiously, wondering about the life they've led. Those who study philosophy believe that the solutions to these questions are urgent and central to their happiness, and so they give their thinking over to them early and often.
Why Philosophy at Le Moyne?
At most colleges – and indeed at most graduate universities – philosophy departments are loyal to one of the two Western philosophical traditions of the past two hundred years: either continental philosophy (from the continent of Europe – chiefly Germany and France) or analytic philosophy (the dominant philosophical tradition in Great Britain and the U.S.). Le Moyne's department of philosophy is unusual in being strongly represented in both traditions, so our students gain exposure to the full range of philosophical approaches practiced today.
We are a large philosophy department for a small college with a small number of majors: the ratio of majors to full-time faculty is less than two to one. This means, for majors, a dozen full-time faculty from whom you can choose several to work with closely and get to know well. The department's areas of strength include social and political philosophy, aesthetics (i.e., philosophy of art), ethics, and the history of philosophy (particularly ancient and medieval philosophy).
Because of the prominence of philosophy in Le Moyne's core curriculum, our majors have a fairly open course of study compared to other majors, once their core requirements are out of the way. Thus, as a philosophy major, you have time to pursue interests related to philosophy – for example, in religious studies, political science, literature, or foreign languages – and to pursue other, possibly less-related interests – in theater arts or music, for example, or to satisfy the requirements for teacher certification.
There are several funded enrichment opportunities for philosophy majors at Le Moyne. These include travel to undergraduate philosophy conferences across the country, study abroad and post-graduate fellowships, and participation in Symposium, the student philosophy club.
News and events
Prof. Steven Affeldt's article "The Normativity of the Natural" has appeared in the recently published volume Varieties of Skepticism: Essays after Kant, Wittgenstein, and Cavell, edited by James Conant and Andrea Kern (De Gruyter, 2014). The volume "brings out the varieties of forms of philosophical skepticism that have continued to preoccupy philosophers for the past of couple of centuries, as well as the specific varieties of philosophical res
ponse that these have engendered."
Prof. Mario Sáenz contributed an article to the just-publshed collection Liberación, Interculturalidad e Historia de las Ideas, Pensamiento Filosófico en América latina, edited by José Santos Herceg (Colección IDEA, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, 2013). Prof. Sáenz's chapter on the Philosophy of Liberation is entitled “La filosofía de la liberación ¿como un historicismo de la alteridad? Del historicismo analéctico al trabajo vivo.”
Prof. Karmen MacKendrick's work is the focus of the most recent issue of the journal Theology and Sexuality (Volume 18, No. 2). The issue contains essays on Prof. MacKendrick by Shelly Rambo, Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Virginia Burrus, Kent L. Brintnall, and Cameron Partridge, and includes a response by Prof. MacKendrick. She has also contributed to the just published anthology Material Spirit: Religion and Literature Intranscendent (Fordham, 2013), whose essays "examine philosophical, religious, and literary or artistic texts using methodologies and insights that have grown out of reflection on literature and art." Prof. MacKendrick's essay, "Impossible Confessions," addresses primarily the thought of Georges Bataille.
Profs. Steven Affeldt and William Day are contributors to the recently published Wittgenstein Reading (De Gruyter, 2013). The volume examines how "Wittgenstein's thought is reflected in his reading and reception of other authors." Prof. Affeldt considers the sympathy in approach between Wittgenstein and Augustine in "Being Lost and Finding Home: Philosophy, Confession, Recollection, and Conversion in Augustine’s Confessions and Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations," and Prof. Day writes about Wittgenstein's ambivalent response to Shakespeare in "To Not Understand, but Not Misunderstand: Wittgenstein on Shakespeare."
Adjunct instructor Jeremy Pierce recently published "Glasgow's Race Antirealism: Experimental Philosophy and Thought Experiments" in the summer 2013 issue of Journal of Social Philosophy.
Pictured above, left to right, top row: Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, René Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche; bottom row: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Stanley Cavell;
[Webmaster: William Day]
--that most persons, simply by virtue of being human beings, yearn both to understand what it is to be a human being and to savor the mystery of being human at one and the same time;
--that philosophy is our reflective engagement with these twin-yearnings, affording us, as it does, our place twixt understanding and wonderment; seeing and not seeing;
--that we are the meaning beings (the speaking beings), that we yearn for our lives to be meaningful and that philosophy seeks to enhance our lives by empowering us over the word;
--that we are the creatures capable of living nobly and beautifully and that philosophy affords us the opportunity to attune our lives to the sounds of such beauty and the Sublime callings of the noble;
--that liberal education is not a designer luxury in the world of college and university learning; that only as we are liberated from ignorance and prejudice are we liberated toward a humane world;
--that the pursuit of career does not void the challenge of being human nor the necessity of rendering the self capable humane living;
--that the purported divisions between the humanities and the sciences, or worse, between the humanities and the affairs of business, are false dichotomies;
--and, that, ironically, philosophy may be the finest pre-professional mode of study to be had.
It is to these ends that I gather with my students in circles of the word—settings of discourse where, as equals, we seek out our understandings of things that matter—sharing, among ourselves, our reflections, our questions, our stories, and our poetry—members all of a city of speech (dia-logic) within which we might bring into the light of our words the wondrous range of experience that defines us all as human.