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William R. Eakin, Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy


Walton Fine Arts Center 219
William R. Eakin, Ph.D.

I was always interested in how other people thought and how their views of the world differed from mine. As a freshman in college in a course called “Views of Man,” we read a book of philosophy each week. One week we’d be in Plato’s world, the next Augustine’s; we’d see the contributions of Descartes, then Marx. Each philosophical work opened another world. I find this incredibly important—that the edges and limits of our thinking can themselves be expanded and opened.

For the reasons above I not only write and teach philosophy, but I am also a writer of fiction, asking so-called boundary questions in both: What am I as a person? Is there meaning in the universe? What is real? Is there a God? What can I learn from others with very different religious viewpoints? What is language and knowledge at all? At the University of the Ozarks I have found a place where my students and I can explore these things and a place where we encourage students and faculty to open new conceptual worlds and literally go abroad—I have been fortunate enough to spend time with students in places like Greece, Italy, France, Germany, India and Egypt.

I have been at the university for over twenty years, having received master’s degrees from Baylor University and the University of California at Davis, and a PhD from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.  I became a full time Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Ozarks  in 2000. For majors and minors in philosophy I offer courses in logic, in the history of thinking from Thales to Foucault, in non-western religious traditions, in ethics. I also helped design the minor, “Creative Writing and Thought.” My own writing has included the introduction to a book on philosopher Thomas Reid’s natural theology, a number of essays where philosophy made a difference to such poets as P. B. Shelley and William Blake, a work on the “rational mysticism” of Plotinus, and I have four book collections of my own short stories that address philosophical questions. I also edited several books on the world religions related to environmental issues, to feminism and what these religions would look like “after patriarchy.”

Special Projects / Initiatives

I recently directed several student projects including exploring the issues of:

  • Alterity, the otherness of God and humans, in Søren Kierkegaard and Martin Buber
  • Intrinsic versus extrinsic value of wilderness and national parks
  • Social Contract theory and implications for mature systems of government
  • Existentialism in  Spanish and other literature and film
  • My own work has focused on meaning and language in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and in contemporary novels, including my own
  • I am also returning to an earlier work, “Rational Mysticism in Plotinus,” analyzing the Enneads in terms of language and myth