Dr. Daniel Massey ~ On Philosophy, Fishing, & Wikipedia
Before stepping into any Spring Hill College classroom to lecture on the finer points of philosophy, ethics, or logic, Dr. Daniel Massey’s daily routine includes reading at least one absolutely random entry from Wikipedia. “It helps me to have an assortment of facts at hand that might prove useful for class discussions,” says Dr. Massey.
Dr. Massey joined the SHC faculty as a visiting professor of philosophy in August of 2013. In that short time, he already feels at home on the Spring Hill College campus.
“Spring Hill is a good fit for me because the school is small and classes are small. I’ve scarcely been here half a year and I already feel like I know half the students on campus,” says Dr. Massey. “I also really enjoy Mobile. Everyone I’ve met so far has been uniformly nice and welcoming.”
Close proximity to beaches and the ocean have added to Dr. Massey’s positive experience in the Gulf Coast area. He spent the past ten years in the northeast—earning both his master’s degree and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Connecticut. Following his graduation, Dr. Massey served as a visiting adjunct instructor at Connecticut College in New London, Conn.
SHC: You spent the last decade in Connecticut. Where did you live and work before that?
DM: I grew up in Arkansas and earned my Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Arkansas State University. After finishing my Ph.D. at ASU, I was able to return there for a time as a visiting professor of philosophy.
SHC: Tell us about your specific areas of interest in philosophy.
DM: I have some pretension to being a philosophical generalist who can talk intelligently about most topics in philosophy, but most of my actual work tends to be on questions about the character and philosophical significance of moral disagreement and quasi-technical work in the semantics and metaphysics of truth, especially relative truth. I also have a strong interest in classical Chinese philosophy (especially Confucius and Chuang-Tzu) and logic.
SHC: How have you enjoyed teaching at a small, Jesuit liberal arts college?
DM: A smaller school gives you a better chance to make a serious impression on students and thus to have a real impact. I also appreciate how engaged and friendly my fellow faculty have been. Not all schools have those virtues, and so I am thankful.
SHC: What are your goals as a visiting professor of philosophy at SHC?
DM: My most important goal right now is simply to be the best teacher I can be and to be a significant presence in students’ minds. I certainly hope to see Spring Hill College and the philosophy program grow while still maintaining the advantages of a smaller school.
SHC: Hobbies or interests outside of work?
DM: I’ve never lived near the ocean, so I am happy to be here. That being said, I’m a mediocre fisherman. I’m also a terrible guitarist. I also have no pets aside from a stray cat I feed. I am enjoying the Gulf Coast’s restaurants and cultural events.
Dr. Massey’s spring 2014 class offerings include Introduction to Logic, Classical Chinese Philosophy, and Ethics: Service Learning. His office is located on the third floor of the Gregory Lucey Administration Building.