A Message from Our Chair

It gives me great pleasure to introduce the newest issue of our magazine; I hope you enjoy reading about the many things that have been going on in Philosophy at the University of Toronto in the past 12 months.

Over the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic, I have realized how foolish it can be to make predictions about its course. The past year, again, saw sudden shifts from optimism and increased in-person activities to another pivot to online instruction and the home office. I would like to thank once more our incredibly dedicated staff on all three campuses for the support they provided to undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members.

Despite the pandemic and all the challenges it created for our community, Philosophy had a strong year, and we have been working relentlessly to become even better. For example, between November and now, the three U of T Philosophy Departments conducted searches for six faculty positions in areas ranging from South Asian philosophy and ethics and political philosophy to philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. We are delighted that Sara Aronowitz and Reza Hadisi will join us at St. George. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements! It also feels rewarding to see the fruit of much hard work recognized by our peers. The most recent iteration of Wiley-Blackwell’s “Philosophical Gourmet Report,” a ranking of graduate programs in Philosophy, now places us at #8 in the Anglophone world, just behind Yale and ahead of Harvard, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Columbia. I am personally not a fan of rankings, but one should accept a compliment when it is offered.

Not all news in recent months proved happy. Our community has been saddened by the death of Frank Cunningham, a beloved long-time faculty member and former chair, as well as the passing of two of our distinguished alumni: Charles Mills and Erna Paris. They will be missed.

As you can see, the new issue of the magazine has a special focus on global philosophy. You may wonder: What is global philosophy? Isn’t all philosophy global insofar as the discipline, in its pursuit of rational understanding and insight, abstracts from specific cultural settings and regional idiosyncrasies? Well, let’s find out from one of the many articles in this issue. A focus on global philosophy also echoes recent recruitment on our three campuses. It seems only fitting for a philosophy department in the world’s most diverse city to reflect the riches of philosophical thought found in many traditions around the globe. In the past couple of years, we have added a number of colleagues in South Asian philosophy and ensured that Chinese philosophy has returned to our curriculum. We have also gained coverage in Africana philosophy. While this has immediate impact on our course offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels, it also enables us to prepare future leaders in these exciting subfields.

The easing of COVID-19 once again allowed us to welcome visiting professors and visiting graduate students from around the world. Their presence in the department has always proved a major asset, and it is particularly appreciated after a period of suddenly halted international mobility. A belated, special welcome to visiting professors Marina Velasco from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Ryan Johnson from Elon University (USA) who have enriched departmental conversations and activities these past months.

Last but not least, a very warm welcome to Belinda Piercy, who last year left the position of TA coordinator and part-time professor in the teaching stream to become the new assistant to the chair. Her remarkable talents come to the fore even more clearly in the new role she plays in the department. And an equally warm welcome—or rather, welcome back—to Natalia Belomestnova, who joined us in March in the newly created position of financial and administrative assistant.

Don’t forget to check out our website for current events and news and to follow us on social media. It would be a pleasure to welcome you at a future department talk or event. And if you have feedback or suggestions, please send them our way.

We are always happy to hear from you.

Martin Pickavé
Chair, Department of Philosophy
Faculty of Arts and Science
Chair, Graduate Department of Philosophy