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Philosophy

Fall Planning

Dear Students, Families and Friends of the Philosophy Department,

The Department of Philosophy at Lewis & Clark College has worked hard over the summer to prepare for the Fall 2020 semester. We want to share our plans with you.

We ask our students to remember two things about Philosophy.

First, Philosophy is an activity. In our classes, we are inviting you to take part in that activity. You will learn by doing. The practice of Philosophy can be done together in-person, together over the internet, and together through writing. Philosophy can even be done in solitude. Our Philosophy courses, our advising and our extra-curricular events will help you engage in the activity of Philosophy as soon as you arrive to campus.

Second, Philosophy is more than an academic discipline that exists only on college and university campuses. Philosophical investigation is an activity the lies at the core of every major human society. Philosophers ask foundational questions about reality, knowledge, society, politics, religion, art, technology, and every aspect of our world. The philosophers at Lewis & Clark College work in diverse traditions with roots in the earliest human societies. The Department of Philosophy at Lewis & Clark College has long prided itself on practicing Philosophy from a strong sense of history.

The history of Philosophy shows us that philosophers produce insights and engaging works even during the most unsettled periods of human history. 2020 is no different. Philosophers around the world, including the philosophers at Lewis & Clark, continue to produce important work. The events of this past year are raising foundational philosophical questions about justice, knowledge, death and much, much more. This Fall, as always, we invite our students and community to engage in philosophical activity as one core approach to the challenges and decisions we face.

This semester we will continue to engage in philosophical activity. We will introduce new students to the diverse methods and traditions of philosophical thought. We will work to complete our projects with continuing and advanced students. Each member of the faculty has developed their courses, advising and other philosophical activity to ensure that Lewis & Clark continues to provide resources for students and the community to do Philosophy and develop their minds.

Here are some specifics for students to help you prepare for the Fall:

  1. Every faculty member teaching a Philosophy course for Fall 2020 is prepared to move the course fully online, if required by state and local health officials. Should this happen, the change will not be abrupt because we have planned for this possibility.
  2. Philosophy courses in Fall 2020 contain a mix of delivery methods. Some have significant in-person elements each week. Others are significantly online (because of instructor health requirements). Please be in touch with the course professor or the department chair (joel@lclark.edu) if you have questions about how your course will be delivered.
  3. Philosophy courses that will be taught completely online will contain ample opportunities to engage, in real time, with the faculty teaching the course. For details, students can email their professor. In addition, students can contact the department chair at joel@lclark.edu.
  4. Each week Philosophy majors, minors or potential majors/minors are invited to attend the weekly Philosophy Walk with members of the department. The walks will observe health protocols and there will be a sign-up sheet. Check events page for the sign up sheet.
  5. The Philosophy Club is a great opportunity for students to discuss Philosophy, plan events and continue the tradition of student-run Philosophy on campus. 
  6. Many of our courses will involve significant small group tutorials that enable students to engage more closely with the professor. Some tutorials will be in-person, others will be live online.
  7. The department will continue to host a colloquium series that brings some of the most important contemporary philosophers from around the world to the Lewis & Clark community. Students will have the opportunity to engage with philosophers during our virtual colloquia.
  8. The department is hosting the West Coast Plato Workshop in Fall 2020 with participants from North America, South America and Europe.
  9. The department will continue to run the Existentialism Reading Group in 2020-21. Please check our Events page for updates or contact Phillip Baron (pbarron@lclark.edu) if you are interested in learning about Existentialism.

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