We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Adventures in Philosophy at Notre Dame

Kenneth M. Sayre

Publication Year: 2014

Adventures in Philosophy at Notre Dame recounts the fascinating history of the University of Notre Dame's Department of Philosophy, chronicling the challenges, difficulties, and tensions that accompanied its transition from an obscure outpost of scholasticism in the 1940s into one of the more distinguished philosophy departments in the world today. Its author, Kenneth Sayre, who has been a faculty member for over five decades, focuses on the people of the department, describing what they were like, how they got along with each other, and how their personal predilections and ambitions affected the affairs of the department overall. The book follows the department’s transition from its early Thomism to the philosophical pluralism of the 1970s, then traces its drift from pluralism to what Sayre terms "professionalism,” resulting in what some perceive as a severance from its Catholic roots by the turn of the century. Each chapter includes an extensive biography of an especially prominent department member, along with biographical sketches of other philosophers arriving during the period it covers. Central to the story overall are the charismatic Irishmen Ernan McMullin and Ralph McInerny, whose interaction dominated affairs in the department in the 1960s and 1970s, and who continued to exercise major roles in the following decades. Philosophers throughout the English-speaking world will find Adventures in Philosophy at Notre Dame essential reading. The book will also appeal to readers interested in the history of the University of Notre Dame and of American higher education generally.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (429.0 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (50.9 KB)
pp. vii-x

read more

Preface and Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF (32.7 KB)
pp. xi-xii

This is a story about the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Philosophy. It covers a period extending roughly from the mid-1930s through the first decade of the new millennium. I have been a member of this department since 1958. The story is based on my own memories, on the memories of other...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (60.4 KB)
pp. 1-8

Time passes at Notre Dame like everywhere else, despite the aura of eternal presence projected by the Golden Dome. Constructed of iron and steel with a thin overlay of almost pure gold, the Dome is probably the best-known campus landmark in the world. It is held in...

Part I: From Thomism to Pluralism

read more

Chapter 1: A Bastion of Thomism

pdf iconDownload PDF (529.3 KB)
pp. 11-46

Joe Bobik was the first new colleague to greet me when I arrived at ND in the fall of 1958. Joe had joined the department two years earlier, having previously taught at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Within the next few months we became close friends. We played piano...

read more

Chapter 2: Breaching the Ramparts

pdf iconDownload PDF (122.5 KB)
pp. 47-76

Maverick that he was, Fr. Leo Ward did not play a major role in changing the academic profile of the department. There is nothing in the records of the time to suggest that his dissatisfaction with textbook Thomism had much influence on how his colleagues taught their...

read more

Chapter 3: The Gates Swing Open

pdf iconDownload PDF (131.0 KB)
pp. 77-109

Fr. Hesburgh was convinced that the Philosophy Department’s textbook version of Thomism stood in the way of the university’s pursuit of excellence. This conviction motivated his persistent and ultimately successful effort to bring Ernan McMullin back to ND. Ernan returned...

read more

Chapter 4: Pluralism

pdf iconDownload PDF (346.0 KB)
pp. 110-148

Ernan McMullin became department chair in 1965, during the final throes of American Thomism described in the last two chapters. In the words of ND historian Philip Gleason, whereas Thomism had “reached its high point in this country in the 1950s . . ., the ideal of a ‘Thomistic...

Part II: From Pluralism to Professionalism

read more

Chapter 5: Centers and Institutes

pdf iconDownload PDF (147.7 KB)
pp. 151-189

A major factor in ND’s growing reputation as a research university has been its increasing number of centers and institutes for specialized study. Taken as a group, these organizations both enhance the university’s visibility and bring in money to help defray faculty expenses. The...

read more

Chapter 6: Sea Change

pdf iconDownload PDF (137.8 KB)
pp. 190-226

The transition from Thomism to pluralism depicted in chapter 4 had little immediate effect on the general culture of the department. People were still cordial toward each other and interested in each other’s work. There still were ample opportunities to interact socially with colleagues...

read more

Chapter 7: Professional Philosophy

pdf iconDownload PDF (141.9 KB)
pp. 227-264

Time was when aspiring philosophers had little help in choosing among graduate schools beyond advice from their undergraduate teachers. My own experience around 1950 is a case in point. Of my three main teachers at Grinnell, two (Hippocrates George Apostle and...

read more

Chapter 8: Entering the New Millennium

pdf iconDownload PDF (160.4 KB)
pp. 265-308

Within the five years following 1999, department size increased from 38 to 43, and Catholic membership decreased from 50 percent (19 of 38) to 40 percent (17 of 43). Remaining unchanged was its lack of a common mission and its disinclination to address the issue. A consequence was that the department moved into the new millennium with...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (64.3 KB)
pp. 309-316

Ernan officially retired from the university in 1994 at the age of sixtynine, but retained his previous office in Decio Faculty Hall. His home then was at the end of Oak Park Drive in South Bend, where he had lived for over twenty years. In 2001 he moved with the department to...

Appendix A

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.0 KB)
pp. 317-325

Appendix B

pdf iconDownload PDF (34.7 KB)
pp. 326-327

Appendix C

pdf iconDownload PDF (36.2 KB)
pp. 328-329


pdf iconDownload PDF (159.1 KB)
pp. 330-362


pdf iconDownload PDF (60.4 KB)
pp. 363-369

Index, About the Author, Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (478.6 KB)
pp. 370-382

E-ISBN-13: 9780268092856
E-ISBN-10: 0268092850
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268017842
Print-ISBN-10: 0268017840

Page Count: 376
Illustrations: 8 halftones
Publication Year: 2014