OWU emeritus professor publishes retrospective


Bernard Murchland, Ph.D., a retired philosophy professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, is the author of a new book titled “Becoming a Philosopher: Selected Reviews and Essays 1960-2015.”

In introducing the book, Murchland recounts how he came to study philosophy, why he enjoyed teaching it, and why it is important for students to study it.

“I was a student at the University of Montreal in the 1950s, which was the heyday of the existentialist movement,” Murchland recounts. “As a francophone university, Montreal had a direct pipeline to Europe and especially to France. Many of the big names in existentialism came to speak, and I met some of them.

“They were larger-than-life figures,” he continues. “They had fought in the Resistance against the Nazis, held prestigious degrees, and were public intellectuals in full-founding journals, editing newspapers, forming political groups, teaching in universities, serving in government, and writing prizewinning books. They inspired many young people to study philosophy.”

As Murchland progressed in his studies, he saw important links to the American pragmatists and beyond them to the mainstream of the liberal arts tradition going back to the Greeks.

When he began his teaching career, he discovered that his students also were interested in existentialism. It spoke to their youthful idealism and engaged them in the self-forming values of freedom and responsibility, faith and commitment, and creativity and the meaning of life.

“Many of them experienced for the first time in their education a sense of dramatic self­development,” Murchland says.

“Becoming Philosopher” is divided into three parts – writings with themes of education, with themes of social and political philosophy, and with themes of existentialism – each reflecting Murchland’s interests as a philosophy professor. Copies will be available soon in the OWU Campus Store, located in the lower level of Hamilton-Williams Campus Center.

Murchland was a professor in OWU’s Department of Philosophy from 1967 to 2004. In 1996, he earned the university’s Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award, which is bestowed annually to recognize outstanding teachers. In supporting his nomination, one student shared: “Let him help you dig around in yourself. This is the most thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating course I have had at OWU. The pinnacle of my four years.”

In addition to “Becoming a Philosopher,” Murchland has published more than 100 articles and reviews, and he has translated, edited, or authored nearly two dozen books.

Murchland earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Moncton, a bachelor’s of religious studies from the University of Montreal, a master’s degree from the University of Ottawa, and a doctorate from the State University of New York.

Learn more about studying philosophy at Ohio Wesleyan at www.owu.edu/philosophy.


Special to The Gazette

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