phone 616-331-3257
Welcome to the Agora


Tue & Thur 9:00–9:45 am at DeVos Center, Grand Rapids (Building C, 1st floor Atrium),
Wed 1:30–2:30 pm at B3-200 Mackinac Hall,
and by arrangement



— FALL 2015 —

PHI 220: Aesthetics, with ArtPrize!

These classes meet on the Pew Campus, Grand Rapids

Sec. 01: T&Th 10–11:15am
Sec. 02: T&Th 11:30–12:45pm


Many recent courses are preserved on a Moodle server. Login as "Guest" to view them.

PHI 101: Introduction to Philosophy [Fall 2013]
PHI 220: Aesthetics [Fall 2014]
LIB 100: Introduction to Liberal Education [Winter 2014]
LIB 495: Senior Seminar (Capstone) [Winter 2013]
ENS 401: Environmental Problem Solving ENS Capstone [Winter 2014]
PHI 495: Reality, Knowledge and Value Philosophy Capstone [Fall 2010]
PHI 230: American Philosophy [Fall 2009]
PHI 376: Community Working Classics Ecological Literacy and Sustainability [Winter 2008]

The most recent syllabus is available for older courses.

LIB 330: The Idea of Nature
PHI 102: Ethics
PHI 304: Recent Great Philosophers
PHI 325: Ethics in Professional Life
PHI 335: Philosophy and Democracy
PHI 380: Environmental Philosophy (Special Topics)


  • Pragmatism

    The work of the classical American pragmatists and their circle is a rich philosophical resource for our own age. Charles S. Peirce, William James, Josiah Royce, John Dewey, Jane Addams, Alain Locke, George Santayana, and Alfred North Whitehead are among this distinctive group of late 19th and early 20th century philosophers. They emphasize process, historical context, purposiveness, and evolution in our understanding of the world.

  • Raphael

    The ancients sought a philosophy of beauty; we moderns and post-moderns are looking for a philosophy of art. Pragmatism and semeiotics offer a promising framework for understanding the place of art and our ways of evaluating it.

  • gallery 3

    Environmentalists need philosophical guidance; philosophy needs environmental guidance. Environmental pragmatism offers an emphasis on civic philosophical engagement, offers ways to re-think our responsibilities to future generations and the non-human world, and suggests that a much greater awareness of historical and physical embodiment is needed in philosophy more generally.

  • gallery 4

    In order to understand the way forward to living sustainably on the planet, we need to draw on all pertinent knowledge about humans' relations to their environments. Science, economics and politics, and the arts and humanities are all relevant to figuring things out. My approach to environmental studies puts the knowledge and skills of liberal education, and especially philosophy, at the center of these efforts.




Josiah Royce: article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Ousiology: blogging Aristotle's Metaphysics (Summer 2009).

Thargelion: a slideshow of my scanned reading notes on Plato's Gorgias (Summer 2007). 42 pages. Once in the slideshow, click on the page image to enlarge.

noemata: a slideshow of my scanned reading notes on Husserl and Merleau-Ponty (Winter 2006). 44 pages. Click on the page image to enlarge.

New Diagram of Semeiotic Process An animated illustration of signs in action!

Sources in American Philosophy: A Rough and Ready Research Bibliography for PHI 230

The Spirit of Two Communities: Charles S. Peirce and Josiah Royce on Scientific and Religious Community. American Academy of Religion (2001).

Notes on Open Source in Education, from Kalamazoo Linux Users Group Presentation (May 2001).

Open Sources and the Open Society: An Essay in Politics and Technology. Computer Scientists for Social Responsibility (May-June 2000).

Notes on Environmental Pragmatism. SAAP Summer Institute on Pragmatism, Burlington, VT (July 1999).

Charles S. Peirce on Esthetics and Ethics: A Bibliography. Online publication (1999).

The Ascent of Soul to Nous: Charles S. Peirce as Neoplatonist. International Society for Neoplatonic Studies (1995).

Joseph Brent's Peirce: The Question of Ethics. Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (1994).

Public Hearings / Hearing Publics: A Pragmatic Approach to Applying Ethics. Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (1993).

Dissertation Abstract: The Principle of Continuity in Charles S. Peirce's Phenomenology and Semeiotic. Vanderbilt University. (1992)


My office is in Mackinac Hall on the GVSU Allendale campus, though my teaching and office hours are often elsewhere. Please contact me to be sure we both know where we're meeting.

icon 1 Department of Philoosphy
B3-200 Mackinac Hall
Grand Valley State University
Allendale, Michigan, 49401 USA

icon 2 (office) 616-331-3257 (dept.) 616-331-2114


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Cease conceiving of education as mere preparation for later life, and make it the full meaning of the present life.