Pessin’s scholarly work has gone through several phases. His doctorate, and first few publications, were in contemporary philosophy of mind. But then his interest in the relationship between mind, brain, nature in general, and ultimately God led him backwards to the historical roots of philosophy of mind, and he spent some dozen-plus years publishing articles in early modern philosophy—on Descartes, Malebranche, and Leibniz, focusing on the themes of mind, perception, causation, and God.
His interest in these themes then expanded both backward in time and forward. First backward, as he did some work in medieval scholasticism (Aquinas and Suarez in particular), which in turn inspired an interest in medieval Jewish thinkers. Then forward, as the interest in Jewish thinkers spread to include modern and contemporary Jewish thought. His keen awareness of the hostility to Israel across college campuses has also led him to do some work on the history of Zionist thought. Finally he has always enjoyed writing fiction, so all these interests have come together in the books he has recently published (or is about to publish): a novel based on the sad life and mysterious death of Descartes, an edited anthology on campus anti-Zionism, a book on the history of Jewish thought, and an edited anthology on antisemitism in the United States.
His books include:
- The Jewish God Question: What Jewish Thinkers Have Said About God, the Book, the People, and the Land, from Ancient Times to Today (2018)
- Anti-Zionism on Campus: The University, Free Speech, and BDS (2018) Co-edited with Doron Ben-Atar (Fordham)
- The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of René Descartes (2017)
- The Study of Philosophy: A Text With Readings (2015)
- The Second Daughter (2014) (a novel, under the pen name of J. Jeffrey)
- Uncommon Sense: The Strangest Ideas From The Smartest Philosophers (2013) (named by Choice an "Outstanding Academic Title of 2013")
- The Philosophy of Mind (2010)
- The God Question: What Famous Thinkers From Plato to Dawkins Have Said About the Divine (2009)
- The 60-Second Philosopher: Expand Your Mind on a Minute or so a Day! (2009)
- Gray Matters: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind (1997) Co-authored with Sanford Goldberg (Northwestern)
- The Twin Earth Chronicles: Twenty Years of Reflection on Hilary Putnam's "The Meaning of 'Meaning'" (1996) Co-edited with Sanford Goldberg (Northwestern)
For more information about Pessin and his work, visit his personal webpage.
View the philosophy department website.
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320
326 Blaustein Humanities