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A History of Philosophy at Colby College

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Lindsay Alston

on 26 February 2013

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Transcript of A History of Philosophy at Colby College

"Philosophy is the guide of life, and life is the goal of philosophy."
Colby President Julius Seeyler Bixler, 1942 A History of Philosophy at Colby College Colby College Today 1858 1942 The Lovejoy Building, which is now home to the Philosophy Department, is constructed. 1958 Professor Robert Reuman, emeritus, passes away. The outpouring of donations from the people whose lives he touched—from fraternity brothers and teammates to students and colleagues, even including former prison-mates from his time incarcerated as a conscientious objector—led to the formation of the Reuman Reading Group. 1998 2013 1991 First evidence of courses in “Moral and Intellectual Philosophy” appears. 1873 1881 1906 1920 1926 1943 The department was first constituted as “Intellectual and Moral Philosophy and Political Economy." The department is renamed “Intellectual and Moral Science" ...then is reorganized into “Philosophy and Education." The department is re-designated “Philosophy, Psychology, and Education” ...then changes to “Philosophy and Psychology” ...then is redesigned as “Philosophy and Religion.” Philosophy becomes and remains an independent department. And now... for some of the most notable dates and developments in the Philosophy Department's history. 1841 The distinguished philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson gives Colby’s commencement address. From Special Collections, Colby College 1857 James Tift Champlin becomes president of Colby College. Champlin counted philosophy among his several areas of expertise and in 1851 published "First Principles of Ethics - Designed As a Basis for Instruction in Ethical Science in Schools and Colleges." In 1861, he published "Text-book in Intellectual Philosophy for Schools and Colleges: Containing an Outline of the Science, with an Abstract of its History." becomes Colby's sixteenth president. His specific philosophical interests were in American Philosophy of Religion and Continental Theory. In addition to his contributions to the philosophical community, Bixler accomplished much during his time at Colby, including inaugurating the Parents' Day/Weekend tradition and overseeing the construction of the Bixler Art and Music Center. Julius Seeyler Bixler Also, Colby gives philosopher Ralph Barton Perry, one of the leaders of the New Realism movement, an Honorary Degree. 1943 When the American Philosophical Association cancels its annual meeting, President Bixler creates the Maine Philosophical Institute, initiating a conference at which Maine philosophers meet and philosophize. On the agenda of the first meeting was a report on “the attitude of the American Philosophical Association toward post-war plans for the teaching of philosophy.” This letter from President Bixler marks the first of what would become the Institute’s annual meetings. 1951 Colby hosts a symposium dedicated to the topic “What Philosophy offers International Students.” The discussion includes student participants from several colleges in Maine (Echo, 1951). 1956 President Bixler introduces an "Air Science" Philosophy Course for the members of ROTC at Colby (Echo, 1956). Also, Colby gives American philosopher Percy Brand Blanshard an Honorary Degree. Also, the prominent American philosopher Stephen Coburn Pepper teaches in the Philosophy and Religion Department for a year. Pepper had many ties to Colby, including his grandfather, George Dana Boardman Pepper, who served as the 9th President of Colby from 1882-1889. Today, the Department’s Stephen Coburn Pepper Prize, awarded each year to a senior philosophy major for outstanding philosophical work, is named in his honor. He was awarded an Honorary Degree from Colby in 1950. Pepper is best known for his work on the concept of "root metaphors" which he developed in "World Hypotheses," a book which came out in 1942 and is still in print. He was especially influential through his technical work in aesthetics. 1959 Robert E. Reuman joins the Philosophy Department. 1961 Yeager Hudson begins his 40-year career at Colby. 1975 Current Colby Professor Dan Cohen graduates from Colby after winning the department’s first John Alden Clark Memorial Prize. He is photographed here on the lawn with Lesley Folwer. After completing his PhD from Indiana University, Cohen comes to teach at Colby in 1983, specializing in Logic, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Language. 1981 Philosophy Professor Robert MacArthur, together with other departments and committees at Colby, sponsors a Nuclear Convocation with the goal of informing the public of ways to reduce the risk of nuclear war. 1991 Jill Gordon & Cheshire Calhoun are the first women to join the Philosophy Department as permanent members. Today, Professor Gordon brings expertise in Ancient Philosophy, Feminism, Philosophy of Race, and African Philosophy to the department. Also, Colby hosts the Northern New England Philosophical Association meeting; Martha Nussbaum is the keynote speaker.
Philosophy Minor, 2013
Philosophy Research Assistant By: Lindsay Alston 1994 Colby gives Cornel West, an American philosopher and activist whose work promotes understanding of race, gender, and class, an Honorary Degree. This group continues to be a permanent part of the department's curriculum and culture. Also, the Philosophy Colloquium Series, an ongoing lecture cycle that brings several philosophers to Colby from other institutions each year, begins. 2000 William D. "Bro" Adams becomes the 19th president at Colby and a member of the Philosophy Department faculty. 2006 Jim Behuniak becomes a member of Colby’s Philosophy Department, adding expertise in East Asian Philosophy, American Philosophy, and Philosophy of Religion to the Department’s offerings. 2008 Both Lydia Moland and Keith Peterson become members of Colby’s Philosophy Department. Professor Moland adds courses in 19th Century Philosophy, Ethics, and Aesthetics to the curriculum; Professor Peterson expands the Department’s offerings in 20th Century Continental Philosophy and Environmental Philosophy. With the conversion of Professor Peterson’s position to tenure-track in 2012, the Department officially expands. 2009 Colby hosts the Northern New England Philosophical Association meetings; Ernest Sosa is the keynote speaker. 2010 Under the leadership of Professor Peterson, Colby hosts the Political Ecology and Environmental Philosophy Conference "PEEP." The keynote addresses were given by Holmes Rolston, III, and Karen J. Warren. Colby gives Kwame Anthony Appiah, a Ghanaian-British-American philosopher best known for his writing on ethics, political philosophy, and race, an Honorary Degree. 2012 Professor Behuniak carries on the tradition started by Colby’s President Bixler in 1943 by hosting the Maine Philosophical Institute’s annual meeting. Philosopher Martha Nussbaum delivers one of Colby’s Bicentennial Distinguished Lectures. Her talk is entitled “The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear.” Led by Professor Cohen, Colby hosts a conference on "Of Mind and Mirth: The Philosophy of Humor" with Daniel Dennett and John Morreall as keynote speakers. And a special thank you to Philosophy Professor Lydia Moland for sponsoring this project, along with Miller Librarians Patricia Burdick and Hubert J. Merrick for their research assistance. Throughout its history, the Philosophy Department has sought to foster the integrity of thought that Bixler's 1942 quote implies. Today, the department strives to be a cornerstone in Colby's liberal arts tradition, preparing our students for rich, engaged, and examined lives. The Evolution of the Philosophy Department
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