Brian Armstrong

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

PhD., Pennsylvania State University; MA, University of Oregon; BA, University of Kansas

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Dr. Armstrong hails from the Midwest, although he has lived in 12 different states and spent a summer in St. Petersburg, Russia, a year in Salzburg, Austria, and a good bit of time in Bray, Ireland. He has pursued an academic career that focuses on philosophy and literature: he majored in philosophy and Russian as an undergraduate; his Master's work in Comparative Literature focused on English, Russian, and German; and his doctoral program emphasized the history of philosophy and ethics. His dissertation offered a new interpretation of the ethical purposes of Ludwig Wittgenstein's admiration for the work of Henrik Ibsen. His current work focuses on the philosophical implications of Dostoevsky's fiction.

As a result of his background, Dr. Armstrong is interested in what philosophical and literary texts can teach us about human nature and moral value, and he is interested in understanding these texts in terms of their historical context and their cross-cultural influence on each other. He is especially interested in periods of conceptual destabilization: those times when thinkers and writers have found their ability to account for themselves and their world to be insufficient, such that new modes of thought and expression had to be developed.

As a teacher he is committed to a triad of interrelated purposes that are epistemic, eudemonic, and civic: he strives to increase students' ability and desire to know and understand the world, their ability to realize their potential for full and meaningful lives, and their ability and desire to integrate their knowledge and self-realization with a concern for the larger world.

Courses Taught:

  • PHIL 2010: Introduction to Philosophy
  • PHIL 2020: Introduction to Critical Thinking
  • PHIL 3002: Ethical Theory
  • PHIL 4030: Ancient Greek Philosophy
  • PHIL 4033: 17th and 18th Century Philosophy