J. Melvin Woody
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
Joined Connecticut College: 1963-2005
B.A., Yale College; M.A., Ph.D., Yale University
• Existentialism • Philosophy of mind • Philosophy of psychiatry • Social and cultural theory • Philosophy of law • Philosophy of history
Professor Woody retired from teaching in 2005.
Professor Woody studied at Edinburgh and Heidelberg. All of his teaching and research stems from an interest in how human freedom is sustained yet limited by socio-cultural resources and institutions.
Courses on Marxism, symbolism, philosophy of history and of law have allowed him to explore the social side of this interest with students, while courses on existentialism, philosophical psychology, freedom and hermeneutics, or theory of interpretation, delve into the ways in which individuals encounter and understand these social influences and modify themselves and their societies in the process.
Professor Woody's 1998 book, Freedom's Embrace, is the fruit of three decades of discussion with Connecticut College students and faculty and with colleagues throughout the country in several disciplines. Conversations with colleagues in anthropology, economics, government and sociology led to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a larger summer faculty seminar in philosophy, psychology and the social sciences that developed the college's interdisciplinary Freshman Focus program, originally funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation, while conversations with faculty in psychology, human development, mathematics and linguistics fostered studies in cognitive science at the college, also supported by the Mellon Foundation.
Outside the college, he participated in Berkeley Summer Research Seminars on "Mind, Body and Brain" and in a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on "Mind, Self and Psychopathology." His current research centers upon philosophical issues raised by psychopathology and psychiatric theories, leading to recent publications dealing with Freud, Lacan and relations between neurophysiology, cognitive science and psychoanalysis.
He is a member of the Executive Council of the Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry and in charge of liaison between that organization and philosophical associations. He is also a member of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, the International Society for Chinese Philosophy, the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, the International Society for Philosophy of Law, the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, the Hegel Society of America and the Metaphysical Society of America, where he serves as Program Chairman for the 2000 annual meeting. He has twice held post-doctoral fellowships in philosophy at Yale, where he has also been a Lily Fellow and is an Associate Fellow of Timothy Dwight College, and has studied at Edinburgh and Heidelberg.
He led SATA, Study Away/Teach Away, to Greece in Fall 1999.