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Philosophy

Philosophy is a practice at Hamilton, where your professors will encourage you to be engaged and to apply your training beyond the classroom. For instance, philosophy majors have developed and taught philosophy mini-classes to their peers and to local high school students.


Caleb Williamson '17 and Todd Franklin, the Sidney Wertimer Professor of Philosophy.

A student discovers philosophy and the research process

In his second semester at Hamilton, Caleb Williamson ’17 took a course with Philosophy Professor Todd Franklin called “The Black Self” and discovered thinkers and writers he’d never studied in high school: Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver and Angela Davis, to name a few.

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On breaks, he started to pick up books about black literature and culture his parents had at home. Williams read some good stuff, jotted down the titles and brought them to his professor to ask if the work was still applicable in the 21st century. That’s a great question, Franklin responded.

“And then he said, ‘Well, good thing you’re here in philosophy because you can try to find the answer to that question,’” says Wililamson, who intends to major in philosophy. The upshot: Williamson sought and won a College grant to do summer research that included visits to the Library of Congress and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

Williamson’s work focused on shifts in black identity from 1894 to the present and the importance of education for black identity. He expects the research to become the basis of his senior thesis and, someday, a book. Williamson is considering going to a law school where he can pursue both a law degree and philosophy doctorate.

A graduate’s progress: writing for the Washington-Post

When Sean Sullivan ’07 spent a semester in Hamilton College’s New York City program and interned at ABC News Production, he was en route to a career. The internship led to another the following summer with ABC News “Nightline.” "And that's where I fell in love with journalism. There was never a dull day. And I felt like we were telling important stories that people needed to see. It was hard work, but a really great experience,” says Sullivan, who went on to a number of journalism jobs and now covers national politics for “The Fix,” a Washington Post politics blog.

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Sullivan majored in philosophy, a decision inspired by his  Technology and Alienation class with Richard Werner, the John Stewart Kennedy professor of philosophy.

“That sealed the deal for me. We had some great discussions in the technology and alienation class and looked at philosophy through the lens of film. It opened my eyes and showed me that philosophy really isn't this arcane subject area – it's about all the everyday things we do,” Sullivan says.

His studies have come in handy.  “Being a student of philosophy is about thinking critically, and doing a lot of reading and writing. Which is a lot of what I do in my job now,” he says.