UD | Philosophy Department

Dear Alumni and Friends of Philosophy,

What do you love about UD? After a class of contemplating the being of angelic substances with Thomas Aquinas, a business major came up to me with wonder in his eyes: “Even though we are talking about such seemingly uninteresting topics, when I look around the room I see my classmates glued to the discussion. It's what I love about UD.”

Students come to UD to study with the likes of such thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Nietzsche — to cut their teeth on the seminal texts of our tradition, and thereby to learn to see the truth for themselves. We professors play an indispensable supporting role of removing some of the impediments that stand between them and these classical insights.

$100K in New Scholarships

It’s not just the professors who play an indispensable supporting role: you, the alumni, do as well. In this vein, I am delighted to be able to share with you the news that in the past calendar year, several alumni have stepped forward to help remove financial impediments to learning by gifting $100,000 for two student scholarships:  

What You Said to Prospective Majors

In my remarks at the Fr. Thomas Cain Scholarship ceremony, I spoke about how you, the alumni, responded so warmly to my request last year to share your own stories about the life-giving value of your philosophy major, and I pointed out that parents therefore have no reason to fear when their children declare philosophy as a major. Little did I know that the donors’ son, a sophomore at UD, would declare a philosophy major a month later! Read the alumni testimonials here.

New Faculty, New Books

Our newest faculty member, Associate Professor Angela Knobel (Ph.D., Notre Dame), joins us from the Catholic University of America, where she taught from 2004-20. Her work focuses primarily on Aquinas’ theory of infused virtue, virtue ethics and applied ethics. She has authored some 28 articles, and her book Aquinas and the Infused Moral Virtues is forthcoming from the University of Notre Dame Press.

I also published a new book, Phenomenology, in the popular MIT Press Essential Knowledge series. It provides an accessible view of phenomenology as recovering the truth of experience. Hear about it in this UD podcast. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, last year's Aquinas Lecture by Kevin Hart, Contemplation and Kingdom: Aquinas Reads Richard of St. Victor, is now available.

Zoom Invitation to Our Aquinas Lecture on Jan. 28

The good thing about campus being closed to visitors is that we are now able to welcome everyone to our Aquinas Lecture via live streaming. No matter where in the world you might be, please join us for this year’s Aquinas Lecture, which will be given by the philosopher Robert Koons, Ph.D. It’s titled, “Is St. Thomas’ Aristotelian Philosophy of Nature Obsolete?” and will occur at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, 2021, via Zoom. Fill out this form to receive the invitation to the online event.

The Generosity of Being

Thomas Aquinas tells us that God is the maximally liberal giver because he alone gives without gain. The rest of us, imperfect agents as we are, gain in giving: We reinforce our habit of generosity with every generous act, and we thereby enrich our very being, becoming better as a result.

If you are able to make a gift to the above scholarships or the annual Aquinas Lecture, you’ll not only gain in generosity. You'll also have the satisfaction of knowing you've helped remove impediments for others to enjoy the pursuit of wisdom as well. If giving online, please select "Other" from the dropdown menu and indicate that your gift is for the Philosophy Department. 

Speaking of generosity, one of our alumni, Joe Dougherty (BA ’16), who is a seminarian for the Diocese of Dallas, puts proof to the claim that philosophy is not only the handmaid of theology — it’s also the queen of the sciences. He spent the lockdown building a 20-foot-tall trebuchet in his backyard, which he donated this past summer to the UD Physics Department. Watch his trebuchet in action here.

May you and yours have a blessed Advent and a merry Christmas!

Best wishes,

Chad Engelland Signature

Chad Engelland, Ph.D.

Chair of Philosophy

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