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Inaugural lecture by Vanderbilt philosopher John J. Stuhr set for Feb. 26

Feb. 18, 2004, 1:58 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Philosopher John J. Stuhr will mark his return to Vanderbilt University on Thursday, Feb. 26, with an inaugural lecture that explores the repercussions of compartmentalizing philosophy from the rest of education and life.

Stuhr, the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt, will speak at 4 p.m. in Room 126 of Wilson Hall on "Does Philosophy Progress?: Love of Wisdom, Academic Discipline or Pragmatic Criticism."

A reception will follow the lecture. The events are free and open to the public.

"Philosophy, once the core of any genuinely liberal education, is increasingly merely another discipline at the margins of curricular hodgepodges in professionalized educational institutions," Stuhr said. "Is philosophy useful at all? While it is possible to have more knowledge and power and wealth, is it possible to live wisely?"

Stuhr returned last fall to Vanderbilt, where he attended graduate school from 1974 to 1976, earning a master’s and doctorate in philosophy. He comes to Nashville after nearly a decade at Pennsylvania State University, where he was head of the Department of Philosophy and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and American Studies.

"We have a very strong dimension of our philosophy department which focuses on American philosophy," said Michael Hodges, chair of the Department of Philosophy. "John Lachs is a major figure there, as are Robert Talisse and Jose Medina. Adding John Stuhr to that makes us one of the strongest programs in the country in that area."

Hodges said that Stuhr’s broad interests in all areas of philosophy help the department in its goal of being pluralistic. Stuhr is also a professor of American and Southern studies.

"We stress and work hard on providing an integrated education that brings to bear all that’s going on in philosophy," Hodges said. "That’s what makes us different than other philosophy departments around the country."

In about a year, the Vanderbilt University Department of Philosophy has expanded from one named chair to four. Joining John Lachs as the Centennial Professor of Philosophy are Lenn E. Goodman as Andrew Mellon Professor of the Humanities; Kelly Oliver, named this fall as the W. Alton Jones Chair in Philosophy and professor of women’s studies; and Stuhr.

"My return to Vanderbilt is a bit of unanticipated good fortune, an honor, and an opportunity and obligation to do everything I can as a scholar, teacher and community member to advance Vanderbilt’s mission, its values and its real excellence," Stuhr said.

Media contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS

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