Faculty Profile

Crispin Sartwell

Associate Professor of Philosophy (2004), Department Chair

Contact Information


East College Room 203B


Author of "Political Aesthetics" (Cornell University Press, 2010), "Six Names of Beauty" (Routledge 2004), and many other books. Interests include hip hop and other popular musics, anarchist political theory, epistemology, Asian philosophy.


  • B.A., University of Maryland, 1980
  • M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1985
  • Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1989

2014-2015 Academic Year

Fall 2014

FYSM 100 First-Year Seminar
The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson as a "community of inquiry" by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning. Through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member, students will: - Critically analyze information and ideas - Examine issues from multiple perspectives - Discuss, debate and defend ideas, including one's own views, with clarity and reason - Develop discernment, facility and ethical responsibility in using information, and - Create clear academic writing The small group seminar format of this course promotes discussion and interaction among students and their professor. In addition, the professor serves as students' initial academic advisor. This course does not duplicate in content any other course in the curriculum and may not be used to fulfill any other graduation requirement.

PHIL 201 Ancient Philosophy
This course is an introduction to central questions, claims and arguments in ancient philosophy, centering on the work of Plato and Aristotle. Potential questions include: What is the value of reason and knowledge? What is knowledge? Is it always better to be just than unjust? What constitutes a good human life? What kind of thing is a human being?Prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 251 Philosophy of Religion
This course focuses on philosophical issues arising from religious belief and practice.Topics treated may include: the existence and nature of god or gods; the contested relation of a god to moral values; faith and reason as sources of belief or ways of believing, as expressed in classic texts by thinkers such as Aquinas, Hume, Kierkegaard, and William James, as well as in contemporary texts. Prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 265 Non-Western Aesthetics
As the arts of non-Western cultures(roughly, non-European and European-American cultures) are distinct from those of the West, so are the reflections on that art. Philosophy of art courses often focus exclusively on Western philosophy. This course seeks to broaden the conversation. It concerns reflections on the arts in Japanese, Indian, Native American, and African (including diasporic) cultures. It is a question, with regard to several of these cultures, whether they conceive of a distinct sphere of art at all; the arts (as is true of the West until perhaps 1750) are often not distinguished from the crafts, religious ceremony and objects, festival, medicine, and so on. This provides an interesting challenge to the Western concept of art. Prerequisite: one prior course in art history or philosophy or permission of the instructor. This course satisfies either the DIV 1.a. or 1.c. distribution requirement. This course is cross-listed as ARTH 265.

Spring 2015

PHIL 202 17th & 18th Century Philosophy
This course treats the Rationalists, Empiricists and Kant, with particular emphasis on issues in epistemology and metaphysics, such as the possibility and limits of human knowledge, the role of sense perception and reason in knowledge, the nature of substance, God and reality.Prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 275 Beauty
Cross-listed with ARTH 375-01.

ARTH 375 Beauty
Cross-listed with PHIL 275-01.

PHIL 500 Independent Study

PHIL 500 Independent Study