History of the Department

The beginnings of Emory University are at Emory College at Oxford, Georgia, near Atlanta, founded in 1836. Emory was chartered as a university and established in the Druid Hills area of Atlanta in 1915. From its beginnings at the Oxford campus, courses in philosophy have been present in the Emory curriculum. The focus of these early courses was on moral philosophy and logic.

The first catalogue of Emory University, that from 1918–19, offers a full list of philosophy courses that was absorbed into the Department of Philosophy that began in 1929 with the arrival of the Leibniz scholar, Leroy E. Loemker. In 1938 Loemker appointed Lewis White Beck to the department, who was in the later part of his career to become one of the most distinguished Kant scholars. Beck received his A.B. from Emory in philosophy in 1934 and his Ph.D. from Duke in 1937. Another member of the Department was the German philosopher of culture, Helmut Kuhn.

The doctoral program in philosophy was begun in 1956. In the early period of the doctoral program the senior members of the Department were Loemker, the Chair, who published his classic two-volume edition of Leibniz's Philosophical Papers and Letters; Richard Hocking, who collaborated with his father, William Ernest Hocking, to bring out the third edition of his famous Types of Philosophy; and Charles Hartshorne, one of the truly original minds in American philosophy, who wrote his major work on metaphysics, The Logic of Perfection.

Throughout the second half of the twentieth century to the present, the graduate and undergraduate programs in philosophy have developed from the golden era of the Department's past to cover all the periods of the history of philosophy, critical and speculative philosophy, continental philosophy, and Anglo-American philosophy. It has continued its distinguished appointments of figures from abroad, the most recent of which was the late Jean-François Lyotard. The members of its current faculty have published works in the history of philosophy, on figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Porphyry, Buridan, Montaigne, Leibniz, Vico, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Dilthey, Husserl, Cassirer, Sartre, and Foucault, and in such areas as ethics, feminist philosophy, philosophy of social science, philosophical psychology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of history, philosophy of culture, philosophy of law, philosophy of self-knowledge, and philosophy of literature.

Donald Phillip Verene
Charles Howard Candler Professor of Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy