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Ethics Group

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Paul S. Miklowitz


Contact Information


  • Ph.D., M.Phil., Yale University
  • M.A., University of Chicago
  • B.A., University of California


I'm currently working on an essay about the ambiguous status of philosophy as a discipline, situated unstably between science and art. The essay begins with Plato, who proclaims philosophy ought to aspire to science (governed by logos, not mythos) but who frequently practices it as art, especially when engaging metaphysical issues (as, for instance, in the account of the afterlife offered at the end of the Phaedo, which is explicitly qualified as allegorical). The essay will argue that this ambiguity is constitutive of the discipline, that it is manifest in various ways in all historical periods, and that it is partly responsible for twentieth century animosities between so-called "continental" and "analytic" methodological attitudes.

Also in progress is a second book, tentatively titled Fanaticism: An Epistemology of Passion. The theme arises out of the conclusion of my first book. In a “postmodern” age, for which pluralism and even relativism have qualified our culture's capacity for credulity, in which self-consciously created “metafictions” have taken the place of metaphysical dogmas that cannot sustain critical scrutiny, what gives us the warrant to believe? To what extent does all belief involve a “leap of faith,” and to what extent does action require belief? Besides a preface, sketches of six chapters, and substantial research (carried out at Princeton as a visiting fellow), I have nearly completed a first chapter that focuses on Kant's notion of “rational faith” and its relation to a sort of “orientation in thinking” that Kant grounds on extra-rational dimensions of intuition and sensibility.

Awards & Honors

  • Visiting Fellow, Princeton University
  • Faculty Recognition Award for Outstanding Teaching, College of Liberal Arts, Cal Poly
  • Teacher of the Year, School of Liberal Arts, Cal Poly
  • Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Faculty Fellowship in the Humanities, Rice University
  • Prize Teaching Fellowship, Yale University
  • Mary Cady Tew Prize for Scholastic Excellence, Yale University
  • Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Summer Stipend for study in Germany

Selected Publications

  • Metaphysics to Metafictions: Hegel, Nietzsche, and the End of Philosophy (State University of New York Press)
  • “Zarathustra's Secret: Releasing Nietzsche from Joachim Köhler's Closet” in New Nietzsche Studies
  • “Unreading Nietzsche: Nazi Piracy, Pyrrhic Irony, and the Postmodern Turn” in New Nietzsche Studies
  • “Same As It Ever Was: Plagiarism, Forgery, and the Meaning of Eternal Return” in Journal of Nietzsche Studies
  • “Diskussion: Response to John T. Wilcox” in Nietzsche-Studien
  • “The Ontological Status of Style in Hegel's Phenomenology” in Idealistic Studies

Selected Presentations

  • “Reflections on the Epistemology of Fanaticism,” Princeton University
  • “After Values: A Nietzschean Eschatology,” Nietzsche and the Coming Millennium: On the Music of the Best Future (international conference at Villa le Balze, Fiesole, Italy)
  • “Unreading Nietzsche,” Third Annual Conference of the Friedrich Nietzsche Society, University of London


  • Chair, Philosophy Department (1996-99)
  • Chair, Academic Senate Library Committee
  • Chair, CLA Professional Leave Committee

Courses Taught

  • PHIL 429: Special Topics in the History of Philosophy - Kant's Critique of Pure Reason
  • PHIL 429: Special Topics in the History of Philosophy - Schopenhauer
  • PHIL 429: Special Topics in the History of Philosophy - Nietzsche
  • PHIL 400: Special Problems
  • PHIL 331: Ethics
  • PHIL 316: Contemporary European Philosophy
  • PHIL 315: German Philosophy: Kant to Nietzsche
  • PHIL 231: Philosophical Classics - Ethics & Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 230: Philosophical Classics - Knowledge & Reality
  • HUM X335: Fanaticism
  • HUM 361: Modernism - with Harry Helenbrand (former Dean of CLA) and Serim Denel/Bruno Giberti/Scott Schlimgen (Architecture)


  • Photography (image published as a journal cover and two juried awards in contests in New York, including first place black and white)
  • Painting (oil and acrylic)
  • Poetry and fiction writing (novel in progress)
  • Winemaking

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