Philosophy Dept. Is Growing

Daniella Devivo, Reporter

Dr. Mark Painter wastes no time although he and his students are up to discussing the significance of doing so.

He serves as a full-time philosophy professor teaching multiple courses like Introduction to Philosophy, Logic, Ethical Theory, Ancient Philosophy, Environmental Philosophy and Philosophy of Person. Painter teaches so many and so many different – classes because he is thrilled that his department has a good number of philosophy majors this semester.

“Doing philosophy is teaching philosophy. I like the unity of that and the freedom that nobody can tell me that I’m doing it wrong,” said Painter.

Painter is the founder of the Living Philosophy Project, which is intended to get more people interested in the philosophical world. Painter said the Project is not static or dead; it’s a living thing.

“We want to see philosophy in everything in all aspects of living life,” said Painter. “It has an effect on people in a way that other things don’t, philosophy does. People don’t have a chance to do it very often, and most people don’t really know what it is until they come to college,” said Painter. Painter stressed that study of philosophy is useful in everyday life and can help people to authentically change their lives. “People ask, ‘Why am I doing this? What is life about? What do I really want?’ And these are things that are life- changing moments,” said Painter. The Living Philosophy Project enables students to practice philosophy in an active way.

Most participants are philosophy majors, but anyone is welcome to join, according to Painter.

Included in the Project’s many activities is Colloquia, a program in which students present papers they have written in philosophy class and modified for presentation to an audience. Food will be available at these events, according to Painter.

The Philosophy Club also has its own radio show on Cougar Radio, which consists of an open-ended discussion about ethical issues. The show, called Diotima’s Round Table, airs every Monday at 1:30 p.m.

Sophomore philosophy major Matt Boffa is an active participant on the weekly show.

“The radio show is mainly about moral consideration, ethics and love,” said Boffa.

The show takes its name from Diotima, a character in one of Plato’s Dialogs called “The Symposium.” Diotima initiated him in the mysteries of the relationship between knowledge and beauty.

“Dr. Painter would say, ‘You can have a back wall to bounce things off of, then you are just not pulling strangulations out of nothing. You would have a frame that you could answer questions that previously couldn’t be answered,’” said Boffa.

According to Painter, the discussion makes a connection between knowledge, beauty and justice in the ethical life. Diotima’s Round Table also explores other topics, including the connection between morality and knowledge.

“The issue is that we don’t come in with any moral, just a simple question and then we let it go. The exercise is to try and hold it in a rational pattern, so that it becomes spontaneous,” said Painter.

Painter said the show is not a lecture – it’s just a group of three or four people holding an intellectual conversation.

Marina Painter, a philosophy major, also participates in the radio show.

“This is a chance to see what education is supposed to do, and it can actually change people’s lives,” she said.

Another extension of the Living Philosophy Project is The Blades of Athena, a group named after Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, a warrior goddess.

According to Marina Painter, The Blades of Athena is entirely student-run, and students decide what they want to do. One of the group’s first projects is “Food for Thought,” which includes food and active discussion.

“What’s cool about the project is that we can talk about philosophy in many different ways,” she said. “Everyone there can be involved in the conversation. It’s not a lecture or a talk, but it is a conversation open to anyone.”

The program also offers SAGE, the Society of Anime of Gaming Entertainment, which is new.

“I think SAGE is cool because it’s very artistic, and I think that underscores what really Philosophy is. You can look at the philosophical implications of a video game, of musical notes, of a painting, or of a flower and that’s artistic,” said Boffa.

Members are also moving towards a philosophy film night to attract new people to explore what the philosophy department is all about. Members hope to bring high school students onto campus and introduce them to philosophy with special workshops.

In addition to all of this, the department is designing Zoe, an Undergraduate Online Open Access Journal, which will include peer-reviewed undergraduate publications. It will be online and open access, so the it will be available to the public.

“We are in the beginning stages of that, and I imagine that it will be up by the end of next semester,” Painter said.

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