What is reality? What does it mean to be human? How should we live and relate to other beings and nature? What is knowledge, justice and love? Philosophy, from the Greek meaning ‘love of wisdom,’ deals with enduring and newly emerging questions about the world, personal identity, society, nature and technology. Philosophy helps us to be critical and creative thinkers and to ask challenging questions, which is far more important than knowing the ‘right answers.’ It requires the study of philosophers from different times, from antiquity to the present; different cultures, from Asia and the West, indigenous peoples and modern scholars. Philosophy teaches us to be engaged and compassionate citizens with a global perspective, which will serve us well in our personal and professional lives.
Baker Memorial, lower level
Dr. Vera Jakoby, Chair
Baker Memorial Chapel, R 112
Majors & Courses
Critical inquiry, intellectual courage and compassionate understanding are values fostered in a philosophical study. These key values enable us to link our past and present cultural paradigms with the future demands of a global society. The aim of the Philosophy Department at McDaniel College is to assist students in the cultivation of clear thought and speech, sophisticated inquiry and comprehension of intellectual concepts and creative and meaningful explorations of ourselves and the world around us.
Philosophical studies are generally divided into two groups: the historical and the issues oriented. Courses in the history of philosophy cover topics from early Greek thought to contemporary philosophy and are closely related to other fields of study such as the sciences, literature, political thought, the arts, language, and economics. Issues-oriented courses deal with the nature of knowledge and truth, the meaning of justice, and ethical values of our time such as war, sex, honesty in government and business, the determination of freedom, the relationship between mind and body, the most desirable society, and gender relations.
You’ll learn rigorous and critical thinking skills that are highly valued in such fields as law, medicine, business, literature, history, and religion, to mention a few.
Resources for Students
- Statement on Rankings
- EpistemeLinks.com (clearinghouse for Philosophy on the Internet)
- Inquiry Site (web based Critical Thinking textbook)
- PhilosophyForums (discussion boards on many Philosophic topics)
- Berkeley's OnlineMedia archive (lectures by various Philosophers in Podcast format)
- Hinman's Ethics Archive (huge archive of ethics materials collected by Larry Hinman, San Diego)
A campus Philosophy Club gives students the opportunity outside the classroom to share their interests through films, lectures and other extra-curricular activities.
See the mailing list for a full upcoming schedule
- International PHI Day: an UNESCO-inspired celebration of philosophy around the world. Philosophy students prepare exhibitions, presentations and recite Plato in original Greek garb.
- Field Trips to Buddhist temples, museums and environmental art projects.
- Film Discussion on alternative films
Special Opportunities / Awards:
- Phi Sigma Tau: McDaniel’s chapter of the national honor society for Philosophy, promotes further exchange of ideas and research. Students are eligible for active membership after completing three semesters of college, rank in the upper 30% of their class, and have completed at least four semester courses in philosophy, with an overall GPA above 3.2.
- Departmental Honors: Requires overall GPA over 3.2, Philosophy GPA over 3.5 and 'A' or 'A-' on Sr. Thesis.
- Holthaus Award: Given to the Philosophy student with promise for future work in Philosophy. Requires departmental honors and dedication to Philosophy, usually demonstrated by activity in the Philosophy club, membership in Phi Sigma Tau, etc. Previous winners include: Jennifer Timmons ('05), Rachel Decosse ('07), Andy Cohen ('08) Alex Lehmer ('09), Lin Sun Oo ('10).
Associate Professor & Department Chair Vera Jakoby
(Ph.D., Freie Universität Berlin, Germany), teaches courses in the philosophy of culture and history of philosophy, including Environmental Philosophy, Philosophy and Film, Ancient Philosophy, Nietzsche, etc. Her research interests are rooted in the intersection between the philosophy of religion, culture studies and philosophy with a focus on the interpretations of paradise narrations in modern and contemporary Western cultures and the genealogy of the concept of nature. Visit Dr. Vera Jakoby's faculty page.
Lecturer Joshua Baron
(Ph.D.,Temple University), specializes in ethics and aesthetics, particularly the ethics and aesthetics of violence. Among other courses, Josh teaches Philosophy of Art, South Park and Contemporary Social Issues, Bioethics, and Philosophy of Violent Media. Visit Dr. Baron's faculty page.
Assistant Professor Elizabeth McManaman Grosz
(Ph.D., University of Oregon) specializes in Asian philosophy, feminist philosophy, and 19th and 20th century Continental philosophy. She regularly teaches Buddhist philosophy, Philosophy of Love and Sex, Existentialism, and a survey of Asian philosophy. Her research interests span the fields of philosophy, religious studies, and psychology with a focus on cross-cultural models of selfhood, especially relational theories of the self. Visit Dr. Grosz’s faculty page.
Professor Thomas Falkner
(Ph.D, Classics, University at Buffalo) is an expert in Greek and Roman philosophy, literature and culture. He specializes in Greek literature, intellectual history, and contemporary reception of the classics. He has authored or edited four books (including The Poetics of Old Age in Greek Epic, Lyric, and Tragedy, 1995); written or presented articles, papers, and presentations at national and international conferences; and received five grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. His current research focuses on the relationship between Athenian tragedy and democratic citizenship.
He served as Provost and Dean of the Faculty at McDaniel from 2004-2012 and is currently Evaluator of Faculty Programs for the Council of Independent Colleges. He regularly takes students to Greece for a Jan Term Program ‘Greece: Myths, Monks, Monuments.’ His courses include Greek Tragedy: Philosophy, Politics, Culture; Why Was Socrates Tried?; Greek and Roman Philosophy; and Plato’s Search for Knowledge, as well as courses in the Honors Program.
Many philosophy majors earn advanced degrees and find careers in medicine, law, environmental studies, education and, of course, philosophy. The majority of our graduates pursue non-academic careers in a wide array of specializations, e.g. business, public service and K-12, counseling.
Here is what some of our alumni have to say about studying philosophy:
- “I can't stress enough how studying philosophy opened my eyes to a larger world.”
- “Philosophy enhanced my critical thinking skills and led me to my Master's degree in education.”
- “One of the most valuable results from the study of philosophy is the ability to examine issues with an open mind and gain a better understanding of all sides in a controversy.”
- “My studies greatly influenced me to get politically active in our state and local government. Approaching political issues from a philosophical base has really aided me in explaining and arguing political issues.”
- “I specialize in handling criminal appeals and, as a result, I am frequently writing about various legal concepts of a given crime, and their application to the facts of a given case. My undergraduate philosophy classes prepared me for the conceptual analysis underlying such work.”
Philosophy majors are successful in many professions. Here’s a partial listing of McDaniel alumni who majored in philosophy since 2000.
- Aaron Moorehouse-Jenkins (2001) received a PhD in sustainability studies and after directing various environmental projects on the West coast, works now as executive director for an international student organization.
- Alethea Desrosiers (2001) received a PhD in psychology from Columbia and works as a post doc at Yale university.
- Matthew Klotz (2002) is Senior Production Artist at Rosetta Stone.
- Bonnie Filipczak (2002), after completing an MA in Philosophy and Public Policy at American University, joined the asset transfers department at T. Rowe Price.
- Nick Valentine (2002), after completing 2 years in the Peace Corps in Paraguay finished his graduate degree at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.
- Alethea Desrosiers (2003) received a PhD in clinical psychology at Columbia and works as a post doc at Yale University.
- James Diller (2004) received his PhD in Psychology at West Virginia University Behavior Analysis Program and is currently working as associate professor at Psychology Dept. at Eastern Connecticut State University.
- Andrew Wu (2006) is finishing his PhD in education and is working as associate dean at Goucher College.
- Denise Adams (2006) pursued a law degree and works as a lawyer on the East coast.
- Phillip Blackman (2006) received a PhD in philosophy and jurisprudence and is working as a lawyer in Pennsylvania.
- Andrew Cohen (2008) studied philosophy and game theory at the New School in NY is designer and producer at a signage company in NY.
- Christopher Sava (2008) worked as an exchange broker in Shanghai and recently opened his own business in Boston.
- Gabriel Stern (2008) joined and works with an alternative education and art group in San Francisco.
- Henry Amankwah (2010) finished his graduate degree in medicine and works as a physician in Pennsylvania.
- Ben Keating (2010) is a social worker in Baltimore.
- Derrick Woolfson (2012) is senior manager at a major car business in Maryland.
- Leanna Webb (2012) received a Masters in counseling from McDaniel College and works as a social worker in Maryland.
- Janki Jani (2015) studies education and works for Teach America.
- Alejandro Gluski (2015) works for a non-profit organization for disabled children in Washington D.C.
- Kelsey Madison (2015) travels around the world and works currently as an English teacher in Thailand.
- Hailey Morgan (2016) is pursuing a graduate humanities degree at McDaniel College.