C. Edward Emmer

C. Edward Emmer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Philosophy

Greetings! My first name is Charles, but I go by “Ed” (it’s a long story, but I’m willing to tell it to you if you have a few days). I grew up in Indiana, but moved to New York City once I graduated from college. After a lot of activity in the art and theater world, I began studying philosophy at Stony Brook University (New York), and eventually at the Eberhard-Karls-Universität in Tübingen (Germany), and the Philipps-Universität in Marburg (Germany), where I wrote my dissertation as a member of the first German-American graduate program in philosophy (the Collegium Philosophiae Transatlanticum).

I began teaching philosophy in New York in 1997, including a graduate course on Immanuel Kant’s aesthetics in Manhattan (New York), before coming to ESU in the fall of 2005 — just around the corner from Manhattan, Kansas, as fate would have it. I have published on kitsch and the Kantian sublime, most recently a book chapter on attitudes behind the use of the word “kitsch” and an article on Kant’s theory of beauty.




Do earthworms imitate God? Do ants have souls? Do triangles exist? And: what religion would horses have? These are some of the unusual questions we will consider. In addition, we will explore Plato’s famous “allegory of the cave” (an inspiration for The Matrix). Also: cosmic origin theories; Socrates’s court-room interrogation of his accuser; the dazzling metaphysics of Aristotle; and the status of women and slaves. (Mondays 6-8:50pm)

Here at ESU, I am faculty advisor to the ESU Philosophy Club, which has been sponsoring the “Socrates Café” — a public discussion of philosophical topics — two days a month since the fall of 2005. We began with the question, “Do good and evil exist?” You’re welcome to join us for a discussion of more philosophical questions at the next meeting. (You can use Facebook to get information on club events by searching for “Emporia State University Philosophy Club.”) We welcome ideas for good films and other events for each semester, so keep in touch! Those who come to ESU Philosophy Club meetings can also have a hand in deciding what we'll be discussing in the Socrates Cafés. Meetings are posted on the bulletin board between 3rd and 4th floor of Plumb Hall's west staircase and at #HornetLife.

C. Edward Emmer writing

Each semester I teach multiple sections of the introductory philosophy course; in my case, the course focuses on the idea of freedom as self-control over the history of Western philosophy. I regularly offer an ethics course in which we look at basic approaches to ethics (e.g., objectivism vs. relativism) before looking at some controversial issues such as homosexuality and torture.

In addition, I regularly teach a course in aesthetics (roughly, the philosophy of art & beauty), beginning with theories of pleasure, censorship, and plot structure from the ancient Greeks, moving through theories of beauty and the sublime, and finishing with contemporary theorists such as Arthur Danto (who wants to figure out what it is that makes something art in the first place, and whether it actually has anything to do with beauty at all). In its last iteration, we added a new book by Carl Wilson on what it means to like Céline Dion’s music. Nota bene: The aesthetics course counts towards credit in art history for art majors.

In Fall 2018, I'll be team-teaching a course, Religion, Secularism, and Society, with Prof. Michael Smith from political science. In summer 2012, I team-taught a course on kitsch with ESU art historian Prof. Monica Kjellman-Chapin. Before that, I team-taught a new course with Prof. Charles Brown on 19th-century philosophy and the roots of existentialism (fall 2010), and I regularly participate in team-taught Honors Division courses.

Another course I regularly teach is basic logic, an especially good course for pre-law majors (it includes less formal, and more “brass-tacks” issues, such as systems of classification, fallacies, and the wider political contexts for the filtering of information).

The Social Sciences Department offers a minor in philosophy, which you are invited to join. It is especially useful for those majoring in political science or those planning to go on to law school, but it works well for anyone who wants to use their imagination and find out about some of the traditions and structures of thought that often secretly influence our perceptions and decisions.

My office phone number is 620-341-5537; here's my e-mail address.

I am on the editorial board of Dialogue and UniversalismE, the online philosophy journal.