Welcome. The study of philosophy has always been strong at Maynooth, since the foundation of St Patrick’s College in 1795. Today, the Philosophy Department of Maynooth University strives to cover the Western philosophical tradition as a whole, from its beginnings in ancient Greece, through the medieval and modern periods, right into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The department has particular depth in medieval and Renaissance thought, on the one hand, and contemporary Continental philosophy, on the other.

Departmental Vision. Socrates annoyed his fellow Athenian citizens to such an extent that they sentenced him to death—for impiety and corruption of the youth. Philosophy can be an uncomfortable enterprise, questioning prejudices and challenging people to come up with better answers than those provided by the unexamined assumptions that pervade everyday life. However, in addition to its critical function philosophy also has a constructive one. Philosophy tries to generate answers to some of the ‘big questions’ that, sooner or later, arise in every human life: What is happiness? What is the meaning of it all? Can we know the truth, or are different worldviews just a matter of opinion? Why do intelligent people often differ fundamentally in the way they see reality? Is there a god? Philosophy, then, is a quest for wisdom regarding the fundamental principles of human life and reality. That it is a quest implies that it is an ongoing search. All the members of our Department are engaged in this search. The answers they give differ. Welcome to philosophy!