• <a href="/live/image/gid/77/width/650/86492_Philosophy_main_image.jpg" class="lw_preview_image lw_disable_preview" tabindex="-1"><picture class="lw_image lw_image86492"> <source type="image/jpeg" media="(max-width: 500px)" srcset="/live/image/gid/77/width/500/height/479/crop/1/86492_Philosophy_main_image.rev.1607649480.jpg 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" media="(min-width: 501px)" srcset="/live/image/gid/77/width/720/height/690/crop/1/86492_Philosophy_main_image.rev.1607649480.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/77/width/720/height/690/crop/1/86492_Philosophy_main_image.rev.1607649480.jpg" alt="Philosophy provides tools for thinking about the serious challenges facing us in the 21st century." width="720" height="690" data-max-w="696" data-max-h="667" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a><div class="hero-split_image_caption collapsable-caption"> Philosophy provides tools for thinking about the serious challenges facing us in the 21<sup>st</sup> century.</div>

Philosophy has been defined as the love of wisdom; the search for truth through reasoning; and a discipline that comprises metaphysics, logic, ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics. Our 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. You will investigate the definitions above, and many others as well. Professors cover the ideas of ancient philosophers (such as Plato and Aristotle), modern philosophers (Descartes and Kant), 20th-century thinkers (Heidegger and Quine), and recent theorists (Foucault and Lewis). Topics include ancient Western philosophy, Indian philosophy, 19th century philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and the philosophies of religion, science, and law. Philosophy provides tools for thinking about the serious challenges facing us in the 21st century. We invite you to consider just some of the questions being discussed in our courses:

  • How and to what extent are race and gender socially constructed?
  • How does race, gender, and class affect who is a scientist and scientific claims?
  • How does one’s standpoint affect knowledge?
  • Who are the marginalized figures in the history of philosophy and why were they so treated?

Past Events

April 13, 2023

Philosophy Club: Coffee Hour

Do you have a philosophical question you’re itching to discuss with like-minded individuals? Are you new to philosophy and want to learn more about it in a supportive environment? Just looking for a fun, stimulating conversation? We’ve got you covered!

Every week, Philosophy Club hosts Coffee Hour, a time for philosophy nerds and novices alike to gather, meet, and engage. All are welcome to attend, whether you’re a seasoned philosophy major or have no background at all. Please join us every Thursday at 4pm in the Philosophy Department Lounge (Howard 214). We have coffee, tea, and snacks for everybody. Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions using this form so that we can accommodate you.

March 17, 2023

Genealogy and Political Struggles - Eli B. Lichtenstein (Lewis & Clark College)

What is the relevance of history to emancipatory struggles in the present? This paper draws on Michel Foucault to explain how genealogy–a philosophical mode of historical investigation–can contribute to contemporary struggles against violence and domination. Whereas philosophers have claimed that genealogy must analyze the past from a neutral perspective, I argue instead for a pragmatic conception of genealogy, according to which genealogy borrows normative commitments from agents already involved in political struggles. On the basis of such commitments, genealogy seeks to refine agents’ understandings of political problems, by demonstrating the link between their immediate normative demands and broader structures and power relations. To provide an example, I explain how recently published lectures by Foucault broaden critiques of penal power by establishing the functional role of prisons and policing in modern capitalism.

March 3, 2023

The Political Philosophy of Grief - Wenqing Zhao (Whitman College)

There have been sizable discussions over whether one is entitled to time off from work when becoming a parent to a child, namely the right to parental leave. However, not much has been said about whether we should be able to take time off to grieve when we lose a parent. The Confucians are against such asymmetrical attention to the beginning-of-life versus end-of-life events. To the surprise of many, as a school of thought centered on leaning into social roles, the Confucians think it is both necessary and good to withdraw from social functioning entirely and practice ritualized rumination over the deceased for an extended period. The Confucians also call for understanding grief not merely as an inner state but also as a social performance. Moreover, the society as a collective has a stake in the issue and is obligated to provide the proper structural support for extended, focused bereavement. In this talk, I reconstruct the classical Confucian arguments of grief with a focus on the following questions: What is grief? What is the normative role of grief? Why is grief a political emotion? Drawing on Martha Nussbaum’s claim that we can and should cultivate love to achieve justice, I argue that the classical Confucian perspective is particularly valuable as it sheds light on this often-neglected aspect of human life in Western political discourse.

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