Merold Westphal is the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University in New York City. His research and writing are focused upon modern Continental philosophy with a particular emphasis on the historical development and systematic integrity of individual thinkers, their dialogue and debate with one another, and their contributions to the philosophy of religion, political philosophy, and aesthetics.
A summa cum laude graduate of Wheaton College, Dr. Westphal was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Yale University where he earned a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1966. He began his teaching career at Wheaton, then joined the Yale philosophy faculty, became a fellow of Jonathan Edwards College, and was promoted to associate professor in 1972. Two years later, he moved on to SUNY (State University of New York), Purchase, as a visiting associate professor, and, in 1976, was appointed professor of philosophy at Hope College, where he chaired his department for nine years. He accepted an invitation to come to Fordham as professor of philosophy in 1987, served as the university’s director of Graduate Studies for five years, and was named to his present position in 1997. He has been a visiting professor at Juniata College, Loyola College in Maryland, Villanova University, and Harvard Divinity School as well as an adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. Dr. Westphal has served as president of the Hegel Society of America and the Søren Kierkegaard Society, as executive co-director of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philsophy, and as a member of the national board of the American Philosophical Association.
A recipient of the Aquinas Medal presented by the University of Dallas, he has lectured widely in the United States, Europe, China, and Brazil. He serves on the editorial boards of five academic journals and is general editor of the Indiana University Press series in Philosophy and Religion. In addition to publishing numerous papers in academic journals and in volumes of collected works, he has edited eight books, including Postmodern Philosophy and Christian Thought (1999). Dr. Westphal is the co-author (with Thomas Ludwig, David Myers, and Robin Klay) of Inflation, Poortalk, and the Gospel (1981) and the author of ten other books, including two studies of Hegel, History of Truth in Hegel’s Phenomenology (1979, 1990, and 1998), an introduction to the German philosopher that shows how he set the terms for postmodernism and won a Choice Outstanding Academic Book of the Year Award, and Hegel, Freedom, and Modernity (1992), an examination of the methodological and theological dimensions of Hegel’s politics; God Guilt, and Death: An Existential Phenomenology of Religion (1984 and 1987), a philosophy of religion text that deals with central problems of human existence and won an American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence; three studies of Kierkegaard, Kierkegaard’s Critique of Reason and Society (1987 and 1991), Becoming a Self: A Reading of Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript (1996), and Levinas and Kierkegaard in Dialogue (2008); Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism (1996), an examination of the critiques of Christianity by Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, which won a Critic’s Choice Book Award from Christianity Today; Overcoming Onto-Theology (2001), a consideration of the relationship between religious faith and postmodern philosophy; Transcendence and Self-Transcendence (2004), a survey of the sources of post-metaphysical theology; and, most recently, Whose Community? Which Interpretation?: Philosophical Hermeneutics for the Church, an exposition of current philosophical thinking related to biblical interpretation, which was published by Baker Academic in 2009.
Dr. Westphal lives in Rockland County with his wife, an ordained, Protestant minister. They have two grown children and two grandchildren.