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Philosophy at APSU

The philosophy program at APSU is designed to encourage students to think critically and creatively about human existence and the nature of reality. It emphasizes (1) training in critical reasoning and logical analysis; (2) a survey of the history of philosophy and the history of ethics; (3) the analysis and appreciation of values; (4) a reflective and tolerant exploration of religion; (5) the growth of a personal philosophy based on the lifelong search for and appreciation of truth, knowledge, beauty, and goodness.

The faculty of the philosophy program is committed to that fundamental insight about philosophy that Abraham Kaplan stated in an interview more than 20 years ago in Time magazine: "The word philosophy means "the love of wisdom," and the love of wisdom is, I suppose, like any other kind of love, so often it is the professional who knows the least about it." Like Socrates, we believe that wisdom begins in the awareness of ignorance rather than arrogance; that philosophy is more of a search for wisdom than a final accomplishment and possession; that the search for and love of wisdom are lifelong pilgrimages; and that the true philosopher values the love of the search at least as much as the content of the search for wisdom. In other words, we hope to share more than our knowledge of philosophy with students, but to involve them in the search for wisdom and, most importantly, to share our love of exploring truth, knowledge, beauty, and goodness. In our efforts to explore these human creations and needs as well as share our love of the search, we examine the great philosophers and philosophical movements but in ways that attempt to remain faithful to the importance of philosophy for such concrete experiences as love, faith, hope, wonder, joy, sorrow, grief, music, and laughter. In other words, for us the love of wisdom is not only a search for the nature of reality but also a search for the nature, meaning, value, and purpose of the human spirit (mind).

There are four options in the philosophy program:

  1. Philosophy major that stresses the history of philosophy, logic, and epistemology, and ethical theory in the total of 30 hours (see a sample four year plan);
  2. Philosophical studies minor that stresses the history of philosophy, critical reasoning, logic and ethical theory and allows one three-hour electives in the total of 18 hours;
  3. Ethical studies minor that stresses the history of ethics, ethical theory, and especially applied ethics, and allows one three-hour electives in the total of 18 hours;
  4. Religious studies minor that stresses comparative world religions, the philosophy of religion, scriptural studies, and allows two three-hour electives in the total of 18 hours.

The faculty in the philosophy program is committed to effective and responsible student advising and provides each student with a tentative two-year schedule of course offerings to facilitate the filling of degree requirements.

At present there are three positions in the philosophy program:

(1) Dr. Bert Randall: B.S. (major in mathematics) from Maryville College (1964); M.Div. from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (1968); M.A. (1970) and Ph.D. (1973) in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma. His areas of teaching responsibility include logic, ancient and Medieval philosophy, religion, world religions (specialty Islam and the Middle East) and phenomenology-existentialism.

(2) Dr. Mark Michael: B.A. (majors in philosophy and religion) from Houghton College (1976); Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Albany, SUNY (1987). His areas of teaching responsibility include business ethics, history and theory of ethics, social and political philosophy, and modern philosophy.

(3) Dr. Jordy Rocheleau: B.A. (philosophy) from Carleton College (1991); M.A. (philosophy) from Michigan State University (1996); Ph.D. in philosophy from Michigan State University (2000). His areas of teaching responsibility are 19th-20th century philosophy, history of ethics, and medical ethics.

All three members teach introductory classes in philosophy, logic, and either ethics or religion. No classes are taught by graduate assistants. We believe that introductory level classes are as important as upper division (junior-senior) ones. Lower division classes (freshmen-sophomore) do not exceed 35 students, and upper division classes vary in size from seven to 25 students. The philosophy program is large enough to offer a comprehensive program but small enough to provide extensive interaction between students and teacher. Additionally, students and faculty usually plan several events outside the classroom each semester. For example, this spring there will be field trips to the Baha'i Center and the Hindu Temple in Nashville as well as discussions in faculty homes.

If you wish further information concerning APSU and the philosophy program, including campus visits or tours, you may contact the APSU Admissions Office. You may also contact Mark Michael in one of the following ways:

  • Mail--Department of History and Philosophy, APSU, Clarksville, TN., 37044
  • Phone--931-221-7919 (Department of History and Philosophy), 931-221-1003 (office)
  • FAX--931-221-7917, Attn: Dr. Mark Michael
  • E-mail--michaelm@apsu.edu.