You are here

Joseph P. Lawrence

Philosophy Department

Ph.D., University of Tübingen 


Fields: Schelling, ancient philosophy, eastern philosophy, philosophy of religion

• CV (PDF) »

Office Phone: 508-793-3392
Office: Smith 506
PO Box: 0083A



Born the seventh of fifteen children on a hill-side farm in Cox's Creek, Kentucky, Joseph Lawrence was raised a Catholic, but displayed Gnostic inclinations from an early age. He was educated at Washington University, Columbia University, and Tübingen University in Germany. He has advanced degrees in both history and philosophy.

Lawrence's happiest and most productive years have been spent as an expatriate in Europe and Asia. At home in the hills of Kentucky, he is emphatically an outsider (and a highly critical one) to the world of middle-class suburbia. Accustomed to philosophize with a hammer, his teaching has been likened to a cerebral form of shock therapy. Most of his publications have been on the philosopher Schelling (he is the author of Schellings Philosophie des ewigen Anfangs), though he has also made frequent forays into ancient philosophy and the wisdom traditions of the East. Lawrence has forthcoming books on Socrates and on Religion and Evil, and his next book-length project will be a work on philosophical religion.

Talk Teaching Ethics - November 30, 2018

In his retirement lecture, Teaching Ethics, Professor Lawrence, a long-time member of the Philosophy Department, responds to a worrisome trend away from the Humanities by arguing that ethics is best taught through literature. As Aristotle warned, the effort to teach ethics more directly, especially to young people, is likely to have the opposite effect of the one intended. The quest for justice has to be modified by a clear recognition that only a god can know its true nature. Such poverty of spirit is, however, a difficult virtue to teach, particularly in the context of the contemporary cult of expertise.