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Brandon E. Polite

Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Major, Minor

How We Work

  1. We leverage the liberal arts for a new take on old ideas. Philosophy has a long history—but we keep it relevant. Our professors have the freedom to put together contemporary issues and classic texts in ways that are unique to Knox. Professor Wack's course on Death and Life covers questions about the nature of life through the lenses of ancient philosophy and contemporary philosophy, and Professor Polite’s course Philosophy as a Guide to Life encourages students to incorporate philosophical ideas from Eastern and Western traditions into their everyday lives.
  2. We're always learning. Knox makes it easy to weave philosophy into daily life. The Parke Ethicist in Residence program allows students to work closely with a professional who uses philosophy every day. And our professors are always looking for new ways to incorporate other fields of study, or extracurricular practice. 
  3. We make contributions to our field. Our students are more than voracious readers: they pour immense effort into clear, concise writing. We don't let that go to waste. Students have taken on honors projects and independent research on a plethora of topics: contemporary Aristotelians, Wittgenstein, the nature of the transgender experience, and more. We're well published, too: the senior capstone course has students writing long conference length papers which are submitted to Pacific University's Undergraduate Philosophy Conference (where many of us present each year!). We've also had success with the Illinois Philosophical Program, where Nat Klaung '16 won Undergraduate paper of the year! 
  4. We find success in every industry. Philosophy lends itself to all areas of study, because it teaches clear, critical thinking—and that's why it serves our students well both in the classroom and out on the job. Whether they're doing an internship at the Prosecuting Attorney's office in Chicago like Nabila Dadar '17, or working as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch like Eric Ratzel '09, philosophy majors bring their training into everything they do.


Philosophy Alumni Working in Related Field

The Program

Required courses give students broad exposure to the field. Six additional courses for the major are taken as electives, allowing students to develop and apply their own interests.

Every year, the Senior Seminar concentrates on a single theme, such as postmodernism, or on the work of one seminal philosopher, such as Hegel, Wittgenstein or Davidson. Each student develops and presents an individual position paper on an issue or theme of the student's choice, and many participate in a national or regional undergraduate conference. Because anything is potentially a resource for philosophical inquiry, Knox's philosophy department has taken advantage of the unique features of its campus and its environment. The class in environmental ethics has studied at Green Oaks, the College's 700-acre biological research area. The senior seminar, studying Foucault's "Discipline and Punish," met in the historic Knox County Jail. Another class has examined the architecture of Knox's Old Main and its links to the beliefs held by the College's founders. 

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Printed on Sunday, June 16, 2024