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Thomas Ward

Assistant Professor
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My research focuses on medieval philosophy on a variety of topics, ranging from details of medieval science to big speculative theorizing about God's existence and nature. My current projects include some aspects of John Duns Scotus’s ethics and metaphysics, and Augustine on the desirability of immortality.

In all my historical work I'm motivated by several things: first, I want to know the ancestry of our ways of understanding the world. Coming to understand our ways of understanding is one aspect of living out the Socratic maxim that the unexamined life is not worth living. Second, the old stuff I work on is intrinsically interesting: it is beautiful, intellectually rigorous, and exotic. Third, I want to give these dead philosophers a voice among the living, lest they be forgotten. Fourth, and most importantly, I do history of philosophy for the same reason people do philosophy: to come to as good an understanding of the natures of things as I can. None of the big answers to the big questions of philosophy is false (or true) just because it is old (or new). I often have the experience, when reading the old stuff, that I am on the track of the truth.   

I teach courses on the history of philosophy, in particular, Ancient and Medieval Philosophy. I also regularly teach a class on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, where students and I focus on their creative works and their philosophical views about the value of stories, especially fantasy stories. One of my goals in this course is for students to come away with a sense of hope in the possibility of a happy ending.

 

Selected publications:

“Losing the Lost Island,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 83:1 (2018)

“Reconstructing Aquinas’s World: Themes from Brower,” Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy 4 (2016)
“Thomas Aquinas and John Buridan on Hylomorphism and the Beginning of Life,” Res Philosophica 93:1 (2016)
“Transhumanization, Personal Identity, and the Afterlife: Thomistic Reflections on a Dantean Theme,” New Blackfriars 96:1065 (2015)

John Duns Scotus on Parts, Wholes, and Hylomorphism. Brill, 2014.
“John Duns Scotus’s Pluralism about Substantial Form,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 50:4 (2012)