Affinity Circles

We are delighted to offer opportunities for Graduate Students and Faculty to share research and engage in thoughtful discussions surrounding a diverse array of topics in the field of Philosophy.

We welcome discussion on any figures in the early history of philosophy from a variety of traditions, so Roman, Indian, Egyptian, and Near Eastern philosophy should be at home in this group too. The group is united insofar as we enjoy many of the "big question" issues that characterize these philosophical traditions, and we frequently discuss issues related to virtue, the cultivation of the emotions, the therapy of desire, happiness, knowledge, and the blurry line between philosophy and theology. Because these philosophies are from historical and linguistic contexts often very different to our own, we spend a good deal of time exploring key concepts and terms that will likely be unfamiliar to contemporary English speakers, and clarifying important differences between these philosophical perspectives.

Faculty Leadership:

Jeremy Reid
Kimbrough Moore


Spring 2022 Events: 

March 18th, 3pm: Olivia Walters on Egyptian conceptions of virtue 

Virtue in Ancient Egypt is concentrated around the concept of Ma’at and is essential to the Egyptian worldview. Ma’at embodies the concepts of truth, balance, and harmony in opposition to Isfet which represents falsehoods, imbalance, and discord. Manifesting through every aspect of their lives, Ma’at appears in everything from their mythologies, funerary practices, and the visual rhetoric in monumental building to their corpus of wisdom literature written by and for the elite classes.  In this discussion I will break down what Ma’at means in all these contexts and what it meant to be a Virtuous Egyptian. 

April 22, 3pm: David Landy and Mohammad Azadpur on different conceptions on the self

Landy: Hume argues that we have no idea of a self as a single subject of experience persisting through time. Not only does Kant hold that we do have such an idea, but also that it is analytic that we each are such a thing. How can he justify that outrageous claim?! On the grounds that it is a necessary presupposition of practical reasoning, and therefore of the demand for justification! I.e. our idea of the subject of experience is just the idea of that which is subject to norms of practical reason.

Azadpur: Kant argues that Aristotle account of the unity of the categories, as the various ways “being” is said, is “rhapsodic” and that Kant’s ground of them in the faculty of judgment and in reference to the transcendental subject, the “I think” that accompanies my representations, is far less “haphazard” (A81=B106-07). In this presentations, I put forward a quick sketch of the Aristotelian substance ontology, the account that privileges primary substances as the original ground and meaning of “being". I will briefly contrast it with the aforementioned Kantian subject ontology and then I evoke the Sartrean proclamation that "consciousness and the world are given at one stroke” to ask whether an ontological balance between the self and the world is possible.

Our M&E Affinity Circle is a group of faculty and graduate students linked by the common interest in areas of Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, Modern Philosophy and  Philosophy of Science broadly construed. Our goal is to create and cultivate an inclusive environment where all are valued, included, and empowered to succeed. Our affinity group is a safe space for our colleagues and graduate students to present their ideas and receive feedback, and to provide a setting to get to know one another better.


        • Build and create a sense of community
        • Develop a community and support network that nurtures faculty and graduate students in their role as a vibrant part of our department
        • Provide professional and personal support to faculty and graduate students 
        • Provide a space for presenting, learning and discussing current research and teaching 
        • Help maintain a positive teaching environment for faculty and graduate students 
        • Help build stronger bridges among faculty and graduate students
        • Provide opportunities for guest speakers to attend and to present 
Network and Collaborate

        • Network and collaborate with other faculty and affinity groups in the department and beyond
        • Support campus community engagement by developing and strengthening collaborative relationships with faculty and students from other disciplines
        • Provide opportunities for social and professional networking between faculty and graduate students

Faculty Leadership:

Arezoo Islami
Patrick Smith 

Upcoming Events: Please email Olivia Walters at for more information.

Faculty and students interested in the intersection of philosophy and religion gather twice a semester to explore pertinent themes in this subfield of philosophy. Our group brings together scholars with diverse backgrounds in religious studies and philosophy of religion to share their reflections on these issues. We have scholars specializing in Chinese & Buddhist philosophy, Islamic thought, mysticism, and philosophy of religion.

Faculty Leadership: 

LaChanda Davis
Deena Lin 

Upcoming Events: Please email Olivia Walters at for more information.

Values in Society Affinity circle is concerned with all things value theory; we are interested in aesthetics, ethics, political, and social philosophy, including topics like feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, ethics of liberation, decoloniality, and various topics in applied ethics. The group is open to all faculty and MA students in the department (and relevantly adjacent departments). If you are interested in presenting your work to the group, whether it’s completed or in progress, please reach out to one of the facilitators!

Faculty Leadership:

Macy Salzberger
 Jamie Lindsay 
Caitlin Dolan

Upcoming Events: 

Friday, April 8th at 3:00 p.m. 

"Ideology and Environmental Ignorance" by Quinn Thurley 

Abstract: The claim I want to make is that attending personally to one’s environmental impact is not merely supererogatory. We cannot just applaud Greta Thunberg, on the one hand, while casually ignoring our own carbon footprint. The frustration I have as a philosopher concerned with the environment corresponds with the frustrations philosophers of race have with epistemologies of ignorance. There is a general strategy in the US of ignoring the collective impact of our actions. The ‘response-ability’ we have toward the environment is not merely supererogatory but demanding of the same critical attention we give toward other peoples. In other words, the tools of critical race theory can help us become more environmentally conscious. I also aim to show the overlap between social and environmental justice issues.