MacLean Chair, Students Explore African Philosophy

Monday, February 11, 2008

Saint Joseph's current Donald I. MacLean, S.J. Chair, Amedeus L. Shirima, S.J., has come all the way from Africa. As a teacher of ethics and political and legal philosophy, he has a lot to offer the University community.

Fr. Shirima was born in Tanzania, but has spent the past eight years in Zimbabwe as an ethics and philosophy professor at Arrupe College, an autonomous academic institution owned and governed by the major superiors of the Society of Jesus. Fr. Shirima's areas of academic interest include philosophical ethics, moral philosophy, Christian ethics and African philosophy, subjects on which he has published numerous articles.

During his time at SJU, Fr. Shirima is offering a course titled "African Philosophy," in which he and his students will explore methodologies and developments of the history of African philosophy. By the end of the semester, he hopes his students will be better acquainted with the issues and problems in African philosophy, as well as the solutions, significance and prospects of African philosophy within contemporary philosophical thought and African culture.

"It's a great excitement for me to be here. It's good to be back in the States. I have not been for a very long time, not since I did my doctoral work in Chicago," he said.

According to Fr. Shirima, he has had his eye on the MacLean Chair position for a while, but couldn't apply for it until very recently.

"I had known about the MacLean Chair position for several years, but was not able to apply because I had a number of responsibilities at the Arrupe College that did not allow me to leave. Once I completed those things, I was able to apply."

Fr. Shirima will deliver his public lecture, "An African Perspective on Aristotelian-Thomistic Ethics: Response to Contemporary Moral Crises," on Wednesday, March 26, at 3 p.m., in the Haub Executive Center.

Fr. Shirima will stay on campus through mid-June, when he will return to Zimbabwe to resume his teaching position at the Arrupe College.

The Donald I. MacLean, S.J., Chair is held by members of the Society of Jesus who are accomplished teachers and scholars in the arts and sciences. Established to emphasize that the University's Jesuit identity is inseparable from the finest teaching, scholarship and collegiate discourse, the Chair is named in honor of Saint Joseph's University's 24th president, Donald I. MacLean, S.J.

--Sarah Whelehon '07 (M.A.)

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