Phillip Barron

Phillip Barron

Post-Doctoral Fellow

John R. Howard Hall 229, MSC: 45

My role in the classroom is two-fold: to create an inclusive environment and provoke students to think critically about some of the world’s most enduring philosophical questions. As an instructor, my role is to listen and clarify. Philosophy underwrites all other disciplines (which is why the “Ph.” in PhD stands for “philosophy”), so studying philosophy is about learning how to appreciate perplexity, how to think and write clearly, and how to understand complexity across the disciplines.

Currently, I am a post-doctoral fellow at Lewis & Clark College, while I am writing my dissertation to complete a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Connecticut. I work on issues of meaning and personal identity through Philosophy of Language and Aesthetics, combining these interests by focusing on the literary arts. My research interests include contemporary phenomenology, philosophy of mind, Daoism, Zen (especially nonclassical logics), Latin American philosophy, and sub-Saharan African philosophy (especially from Ghana).

I am also a poet. As a practicing artist, I respect empirical data on what communities of artists actually do - to balance out philosophers’ tendency toward armchair theorizing about art. In 2011, I founded and edited the poetry journal OccuPoetry, anthologizing poetry and art of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

During my free time, I love to cook, bike, read, and hike—sometimes all in the same day.

Academic Credentials

PhD 2022 in philosophy, University of Connecticut 
MFA 2016 in poetry, San Francisco State University
MA 2003 in philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
BA 2000 University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Teaching

Fall 2022 Courses:

PHIL 203: Philosophy of Art and Beauty
TTH 9:40am-11:10am

Theorizing about art. Puzzles in art that suggest the need to theorize; traditional discussions of art in Plato and Aristotle and critiques of them (Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Collingwood); critical perspectives on these discussions (Danto). Specific discussions of individual arts: literature, drama, film, music, dance, the plastic arts.

Prerequisites: None.

PHIL 217: Phenomenology & Existentialism
TTH 1:50pm-3:20pm

This course focuses on the philosophical schools known as phenomenology and existentialism. Phenomenology, as we will see, is an attempt to formalize ways of understanding the shared experience of the world, while existentialism refers to a collection of philosophies focused on themes of freedom, anguish, dread, meaning, responsibility, embodied agency, sociality, and liberation. This is a class about us, because, to paraphrase Martin Heidegger, a person is a being for whom one’s being is an issue.

In this way, both phenomenology and existentialism focus on the possibility of meaning in human life and experience. We will make some sense of the questions and problems that, as human beings, we are confronted with by reading classic existentialist texts of the European and African diasporic philosophical traditions.

Prerequisites: None.

PHIL 302: Early Modern Philosophy
T 6:00pm-9:00p

Development of modern ideas in the historical context of 17th- and 18th-century Europe: reason, mind, perception, nature, the individual, scientific knowledge. Reading, discussing, and writing about the works of Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Reid, Kant.

Prerequisites: Any 100- or 200-level philosophy course.

Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.

Research

Book

What Comes from a Thing: poems. Fourteen Hills Press, 2015. Winner of the 2019 Nicolás Guillén Outstanding Book Award for philosophical literature and the 2015 Michael Rubin Book Award.

Articles

Professional Experience

Previously, I have taught philosophy courses at the University of Connecticut, California State University at Sacramento, Woodland Community College, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I also worked in the digital humanities at the National Humanities Center, an institute for advanced study in North Carolina, and taught digital humanities courses at the University of California, Davis.