Born in Argentina and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Juan De Pascuale has been on the Kenyon faculty since 1984. Prior to arriving at Kenyon he taught for three years at Brown University and for four years at the University of Notre Dame. In 1994 he was honored with the Trustee Award for Distinguished Teaching; in 1995 he was recognized by the American Philosophical Association for Excellence in Teaching of Philosophy; in 2000 he received the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award; and in 2008 he received the Alpha Delta Phi Great Teacher Award. In 2001 he was chosen by that year's senior class to deliver the Baccalaureate Address, which he titled, "The Wonder of it All."
De Pascuale's scholarly and teaching interests are broad, embracing existentialism and phenomenology, philosophy of art, philosophy of religion, Zen Buddhist philosophy and Roman and Hellenistic philosophy. For many years his scholarly attention has been focused on the work of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Heidegger with an eye on using the work of these thinkers to re-envision philosophy as a way of life rather than as a detached academic discipline.
De Pascuale has served on the Committee on Hispanics in Philosophy of the American Philosophical Association, as Chair of the Philosophy Review Panel for the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program and was a visiting professor of philosophy at the University of Louvain. He served the College as chair of the philosophy department for fourteen years and as advisor to A.D.E.L.A.N.T.E, Kenyon's Hispanic student organization which he founded in 1986 with a group of students. He currently serves the greater community as a member of the Board of Trustees of Knox Community Hospital. He is married to Carola Sanz, a sociologist specializing on the impact of development in Latin American. They have four children, Sebastian, Anthony, Sophia (Kenyon class of 2017) and Veronica.
Areas of Expertise
Existentialism and phenomenology, Zen Buddhism, philosophy of art and philosophy of religion, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Heidegger.
1987 — Doctor of Philosophy from Brown University
1981 — Master of Philosophy from Louvain University, Belgium
1980 — Master of Arts from Brown University
1973 — Bachelor of Arts from Queens College New York
Courses Recently Taught
America is the great, ongoing experiment of modernity, a nation thoroughly structured by all that is considered new in the Western world: liberal democracy, science, technology, industry and capitalism. The colonization of America by Europe led to the status of the United States as a laboratory for political, social and artistic theories which otherwise may never have been attempted. At the same time, the rest of the world has often looked at the United States from a critical, even adversarial perspective. As recent history has shown, America is not just a European obsession, but increasingly finds itself today in a multilateral geopolitical environment. The Sept. 11 attacks were a brutal awakening for many Americans to the hostility that exists in parts of the world against U.S. foreign policy, and against the identity of American citizens. Is such hostility related to the European ambivalence toward America, or is it an entirely new phenomenon, with separate historical and intellectual roots? What new insights do the critiques from non-European regions contribute to an understanding of America’s relationship to the rest of the world? Each week, we will examine texts that center on a particular theme of European-American intellectual relations, the emerging and complex relationship between Islam and America, the longstanding tension with Latin America, and critiques of American-style modernity from Japan. Among the European texts studied are works by Bartolomé de las Casas, Alexis de Tocqueville, Friedrich Nietzsche, Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean Baudrillard. Middle Eastern authors include Osama bin Laden, Jalal Al-i Ahmad, and Sayyid Qutb. Among the Latin American authors are Fidel Castro, Eduardo Galeano, and Che Guevara. From Japan, they include Keiji Nishitani and Shunya Yoshimi. We also will view and discuss several films by directors such as Godfrey Reggio and Adam Curtis. This counts toward the major in French ("track two" or "track three") under certain conditions, when arranged with Professor Guiney at the start of the semester. This also counts as an elective for the Political Science Major. No prerequisite.
Existentialism is one of the most influential philosophical movements in modern culture. Unlike other recent philosophies, its impact extends far beyond the cloistered walls of academia into literature (Beckett, Kafka, Ionesco), art (Giacometti, Bacon, Dadaism), theology (Tillich, Rahner, Buber) and psychology. Existentialism is at once an expression of humanity's continual struggle with the perennial problems of philosophy (knowledge, truth, meaning, value) and a particularly modern response to the social and spiritual conditions of our times (alienation, anomie, meaninglessness). In this course we will study existentialism in its complete form as a cultural and philosophical movement. After uncovering the historical context from which this movement emerged, we will view the "existential" paintings of de Chirico and Munch; read the fiction of Kafka, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Beckett; and closely study the thought of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre. Among the topics we shall examine are alienation, authenticity, self-knowledge, belief in God, the nature of value and the meaning of life. This counts toward the philosophical schools and periods requirement for the major. PHIL 100 or RLST 101 is recommended. No prerequisite. Offered every year.
This course presents an inquiry into the nature of claims associated with religious traditions and the validity, if any, of such claims in the contemporary context. Topics to be studied include modern critiques of religious claims, proofs and practices as irrational and/or related to oppression; the classical "proofs" of the existence of God; the relation between religion and science, including questions about the nature of religious language and how religious claims might be verified; the religious (and secular) understanding of suffering, death, and evil; the possibility of justifying religious claims on the basis of religious experiences; and the question of how religious claims might be understood as valid, given the differing claims of different religions. This counts toward the metaphysical requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
Nietzsche is a disturbing presence in the modern world. In a series of beautifully written books that are at once profound, elusive, enigmatic and shocking, Nietzsche does nothing less than challenge our most precious and fundamental beliefs: the idea of truth, the existence of God, the objectivity of moral values and the intrinsic value of the human being. As a critic of both the Western metaphysical tradition and the Judeo-Christian religion, Nietzsche may well be the most controversial thinker in the entire history of philosophy. In this seminar we will submit some of Nietzsche's most important books to a close, critical reading in an effort to come to terms, so far as this is possible, with his mature thought. We will examine his most famous yet perplexing views &emdash; the death of God, will to power, the Übermensch, nihilism, perspectivism, the eternal recurrence &emdash; as they are developed in "Untimely Meditations," "Twilight of Idols," "Genealogy of Morals," "Beyond Good and Evil," and selections from "Will to Power." This counts toward the great thinkers requirement for the major. Prerequisite: one philosophy course or permission of the instructor. Offered every third year.
Often regarded as the originator of existential inquiry, Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) wrote captivating poetic and philosophical literature concerning human existence. Taking the human hunger for meaning as his point of departure, Kierkegaard examined the rational and emotional depths of human life in its aesthetic, moral, and religious modes of expression. In this course we will read a large part of what Kierkegaard called "my authorship" in order to understand his way of doing philosophy and to examine his portrayal of the spiritual landscape. Kierkegaard's probings into the value dimensions of life — for example, happiness, pleasure, boredom, despair, choice, duty, commitment, anxiety, guilt, remorse, hope, faith, love — encourage his readers to think about their own lives and their relations with others. In examining Kierkegaard's ideas, therefore, the student should expect to be challenged personally as well as intellectually. This counts toward the great thinkers requirement for the major. Prerequisite: one philosophy course or permission of instructor. Offered every third year.
Japan was closed off to the West for 200 years until Commodore Perry arrived in the bay of Tokyo with his smoke-spewing "black ships" and convinced the Tokugawa government to trade with the West. In less than 50 years, Japan transformed itself from a feudal society into a thoroughly modern one and is now a leading world power. But for all of its modernity, Japan remains largely inscrutable to Western eyes and its philosophy even more so. Western categories do not seem to apply very easily to Japanese culture. The distinction between religion and philosophy, for instance, is not as clearly demarcated in Japan as it is in the West. It is only recently, within the last 60 years, that Western philosophers have taken a serious interest in Japanese thought, and this is mostly due to the efforts that Japanese thinkers themselves have made to communicate with the West, especially the philosophers associated with the so-called "Kyoto School." The Kyoto School of Japanese philosophy gives the West a way into the East like none other. They thrust Japanese philosophical and religious thought onto the world stage, revealing an East Asian perspective to the outside world, as well as to the Japanese themselves. They self-consciously attempted to articulate the distinctiveness of the Japanese mind-set in particular, and the Eastern way of thinking generally. The Kyoto School is distinguished for being open to dialogue with European thought, especially continental philosophy (Husserl, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Hegel, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy), and for philosophizing from a Buddhist perspective (most from Zen, some from Shin or Pure Land perspectives). This course is an exploration of several key philosophical issues and concepts in the contexts of several key members of the Kyoto School. Some of the themes we will explore are: knowledge and rationality alternative understandings of what is real and the question of cultural relativism mind and self-hood concepts of the good human responsibility, and the relationship between philosophy, religion and science. We will study the work of Nishida Kitar (1870–1945), Nishitani Keiji (1900–1990), Ueda Shizuteru (1926–present ), as well as that of Suzuki Teitar Daisetz (1894–1966) and Abe Masao (1915– 2006), two philosophers associated but not formally connected to the Kyoto School. In order to gain access to and truly appreciate the nature of Japanese philosophy and the unique contribution that Kyoto School philosophy has made, we will begin the course by exploring Japanese history and culture and then turn to a consideration of some of the Western philosophers that members of the Kyoto school have found profitable for establishing a cross-cultural dialogue. Recommended for students with a background in philosophy, religious studies or Asian studies or with permission of the instructor. This counts toward the philosophical schools and periods requirement for the major.
Individual studies are offered to those students who are highly motivated in a specific area of inquiry and who are judged responsible and capable enough to work independently. Such courses might be research oriented, but more usually are readings-oriented, allowing students to delve in greater depth into topics that interest them or which overlap or supplement other courses of the philosophy department. Students must seek permission of the instructor and department chair before enrolling. They are urged to do this in the semester prior to the one in which they hope to be enrolled. Individual study is at the discretion of the instructor, and schedules may limit such an addition. An individual study cannot duplicate a course or area being concurrently offered. Exceptions to this rule are at the discretion of the instructor and chair. Individual study is usually considered an advanced course. Required work should be viewed as on a par with a seminar or a 300- or 400-level course. The instructor and student(s) should establish and agree upon the extent and nature of the work expected. The work may take one of the following forms: several short papers, one long paper, one in-depth project, a lengthy general outline and annotated bibliography, public presentation(s), etc. An individual study can apply to the major or to the minor with permission of the department. Individual studies may be taken for either 0.25 or 0.50 credits. This decision must be agreed upon with the instructor. The student(s) and instructor will meet on a regular basis. The frequency of contact hours is to be determined by the instructor in consultation with the student. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the established deadline.\n