Welcome to the Discipline of Philosophy

Dr. Heike Schmidt-Felzmann,

Philosophy questions the basis of human knowledge, conduct, and value. Studying philosophy at NUIG opens up a rigorous and disciplined investigation into fundamental questions under the guidance of internationally recognized scholars. Students learn to comprehend difficult material quickly and accurately, to think clearly and critically, and to write and speak persuasively. This is an excellent training with transferable skills that can be applied across a wide range of subject areas. In today's world of fast-paced change, philosophical skills of thinking flexibly and critically are becoming ever more important.

In Philosophy at NUIG we teach and do research in all the main philosophical subject-areas and historical periods, covering a wide range of philosophical authors, methods and core concerns. We aim to provide our students with a solid knowledge base about philosophical debates as well as equip them with the thinking and communication skills needed to engage in critical analysis of complex ideas and engage in dialogue about philosophical questions effectively and respectfully with others.

While being solidly grounded in the history of Philosophy, our Discipline has developed particular strengths in philosophical work that engages with contemporary concerns from a wide range of philosophical perspectives. The department has experts working on the nature of values and the mind, cultural difference and dialogue, environmental ethics and aesthetics, visual art, disability and social justice, public philosophy and philosophy for/with children, data analytics, science and expert knowledge, the ethics of information technologies, violence, community, identity and faith.

As lecturers we are constantly reviewing and developing our pedagogical approach to ensure students are given the best chance to develop their philosophical skills and knowledge and always aim to be inclusive and respectful in our philosophical discussions. We are doing our best to retain this quality of the student experience in the transfer of much of our teaching into the digital sphere for the year 2020-2021.

Our philosophical specialisms

Our strengths are in the following areas:

  • History of Philosophy: Kant, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger
  • History of Irish Thought
  • Contemporary Phenomenology and Hermeneutics
  • Moral and Political Philosophy
  • Bioethics and the Ethics of Information Technologies/AI
  • Philosophy of Science (especially probability, statistics and data analytics)
  • Philosophy of Art and Culture
  • East Asian Philosophy (especially Japanese and Chinese) and Cross-Cultural Philosophy

Our “COVID and Philosophy” project

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on our lives throughout this year. Reflecting on the meaning of its impact in our society and personal lives brings up many fundamental philosophical questions, but also a wide range of applied ethical questions. The range from conceptualising states of emergency and exception, nostalgia for the past and visions for the future, the representation of the pandemic across various media, the conflicting roles assigned to “science” and “experts” and the question of their trustworthiness, the use of concepts such as “heroism”, “essential workers” and “herd immunity”, the question of solidarity, as well as concrete applied ethical questions such as prioritising and rationing resources, the impact on children, workers, persons with disability or marginalised communities, the place of online services in our lives, the move of social interaction and learning online, the use of contact tracing and other surveillance apps and much more.

During the academic year 2020-21 we want to support our students in using their philosophical skills to reflect on the pandemic. We are facilitating 2nd and 3rd year students in Philosophy to participate in our “COVID and Philosophy” project which is going to bring together students across study years who will have the opportunity to conduct guided research on COVID related philosophical topics and submit this research as part of their assessment for participating modules (three 2nd year modules and three 3rd year modules in Semester 1). As part of the project we will also organise some events for a wider audience throughout the year. Our goal is to produce a public output of the students’ work at the end of the year. Interested students should contact heike.felzmann@nuigalway.ie . If you are a first year student or postgraduate student you would be welcome to join us, but academic credit will only be applied to participating second and third year modules.

Contact Information

School Administrator: Dee Quinn (mornings only)

philosophyadmin@nuigalway.ie