Philosophy, Department of

Philosophy has been taught at Queen's since the University's first classes were offered in 1842, and the department has played a prominent role in the evolution of the institution. One of the most distinguished figures in Queen's early history was the philosopher John Watson, after whom the present humanities building (Watson Hall) is named.

Watson came to Queen's from Scotland in 1872. His career as Professor of Philosophy and later as Vice-Principal spanned some 52 years. An idealist philosopher in the English-language tradition of Green and Bradley, Watson was an unusually progressive thinker and an outspoken advocate of the admission of women to universities.

The Department of Philosophy was originally combined with Economics, Political Studies, and Psychology. In 1889, a separate Department of Economic and Political Science was created, but Psychology did not become an autonomous unit until 1949.

Philosophy was a compulsory subject for all students as late as the 1960s. The Department has offered graduate degrees for over one hundred years, the first PhD - in 1896 - also being the first to be awarded in philosophy in Canada.

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