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Among the many questions philosophers ask — What can I know? Who am I? Does God exist? What is the nature of time? — one of the most pervasive may be What is philosophy?

It’s been defined as the love of wisdom; the search for truth through reasoning; and a discipline that comprises metaphysics, logic, ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics. The Philosophy Department at Lewis & Clark believes such definitions have their purpose—but the only way to truly understand philosophy is to engage in the study and practice of philosophical inquiry.

In philosophy courses, you’ll investigate the questions above, and many others as well. Professors cover the ideas of ancient philosophers (such as Plato and Aristotle), modern philosophers (Descartes and Kant), twentieth-century thinkers (Heidegger and Quine), and such recent theorists (Foucault and Lewis). Topics include ancient philosophy, 19th century philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and the philosophies of religion, science, and law.

Outside the classroom, students are active in the Philosophy Club and regularly attend where visiting philosophers, philosophy faculty, and fellow students present papers and posit questions about the fundamental natures of society, life, and knowledge. These talks are always followed by active, lively discussion, giving students a great chance to engage the ideas they’re exploring in classes.

We have a vibrant philosophy colloquium featuring renowned philosophers both here in the Northwest and across the country. All are welcome and the colloquia series can be accessed below.

Philosophy Colloquium Series 2013-2014




October 31st, 2014

  • Image preview 3:30pm - 5:00pm: Imagery, Expression, and Figurative Meaning - Mitchell Green (University of Connecticut)

    Metaphorical utterances are construed as arrayed along a continuum, on one end of which are semi-conventionalized cases amenable to analysis in terms of semantic content, speaker meaning, and satisfaction conditions, and where image-construction is permissible but not mandatory. I call these image-permitting metaphors (IPM’s), and contrast them with image-demanding metaphors (IDM’s) inhabiting the continuum’s other end and whose understanding mandates the construction of a mental image. This construction, I suggest, is spontaneous, is not restricted to visual imagery, and its result is typically somatically marked sensu Damasio. IDM’s may accordingly be used in service of self-expression, and thereby in the elicitation of empathy. Even so, IDM’s may also be vehicles of speaker meaning, and may reasonably provoke banter over the aptness of the imagery they evoke.

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