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Department of Philosophy

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About the Department

Overview | Emerson Hall | Contacts


Welcome to the Harvard University Department of Philosophy's Website!

The Department offers a program covering a wide range of fields in systematic philosophy and the history of philosophy.

Among the special strengths of the Department are moral and political philosophy, aesthetics, epistemology, philosophy of logic, philosophy of language, the history of analytic philosophy, ancient philosophy, Kant, and Wittgenstein.

Philosophy has been included in Harvard's curriculum from the time of its founding in 1636. The Department has had a long and fruitful involvement in the practice of philosophy in the United States and beyond, especially from the "Golden Age" of the late nineteenth century down to the present day.

Photographs of some of the famous figures from the Department's history may be found on the Faculty History page.

For more information about the history of the Department and the teaching of philosophy at Harvard, please see:

  • Harvard Presidents' Reports. Covering the years 1825-1995, many of these reports list individual faculty members, their course offerings, and individual course enrollment numbers.
  • Kuklick, B. (1977). The Rise of American Philosophy: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1860-1930. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Menand, L. (2002). The Metaphysical Club. New York:¬†Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
  • Rand, B. (1929). Philosophical Instruction in Harvard University from 1636-1906. Boston: Harvard Graduates Magazine Association.

Please also consult the bibliography to the guide to the Bechtel Room portraits for additional resources.

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Emerson Hall

The Department resides in Emerson Hall, named for Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Transcendentalist writer, philosopher, and Harvard alumnus (A.B. 1821, LL.D. 1866). Designed by Guy Lowell, and completed in 1900, the building bears over the main entrance the inscription: "What is man that thou art mindful of him?" (Psalm 8:4).

Emerson Hall is where most faculty and graduate students have their offices. It is where many of the Department's courses are taught, and where most of its colloquia are held, usually in Room 305.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 - 1882
Important Emerson Hall Spaces
Bechtel Room Emerson 107 Emerson Hall, Side Entrance
© 2002 Veronica Bailey
Department Offices Emerson 209a/209b
Robbins Library Emerson 211
Tutorial Office Emerson 303
Tanner Room Emerson 310
Graduate Student Lounge Emerson 311
Graduate Student Computer Lab Emerson 312
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Important Contacts

Chair Sean Kelly
Head Tutor Warren Goldfarb
Director of Graduate Admissions Bernhard Nickel
Acting Director of Graduate Studies Richard Moran
Placement Officer Matthew Boyle
MBB Philosophy Track Advisor Alison Simmons
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