John Garner, Ph.D.

Dr. Garner joined the UWG Philosophy Program in 2014 after studying at Villanova University (Ph.D. Philosophy , 2014) and Florida State University (B.A. Religion , 2005). Prior to graduate school he lived and worked in France for a time; he is originally from the Florida Panhandle. His teaching and research interests range from ancient Greek philosophy to philosophy of religion, continental philosophy, and critical thought broadly. He also translates French philosophy and co-organizes local seminars (see GAPS ). His most significant publications (for complete works, see his CV ) include:

  • Book (monograph):
    • John V. Garner, The Emerging Good in Plato's Philebus (Northwestern UP, 2017).
  • Other Essays (selection): 
    • John V. Garner, “An Institution of Waiting: Capital Punishment in Weil and Camus,” in Political Responses to Crisis and Collapse, ed. Antonio Calcagno and Karen Enns [book chapter; accepted/forthcoming].
    • John V. Garner and Christopher P. Noble, “Possibility or Necessity? On Robert Watt’s ‘Bergson on Number’,” British Journal for the History of Philosophy [peer-reviewed article; accepted/forthcoming].
    • John V. Garner, “The Imaginal World and the Orientation of Perception: Henry Corbin and the French Phenomenological Context,” The Journal of Religion [peer-reviewed article; accepted/forthcoming].
    • John V. Garner, "Foreword," in Cornelius Castoriadis, The Greek Imaginary: From Homer to Heraclitus, Seminars 1982-1983, co-trans. with María-Constanza Garrido Sierralta (Edinburgh UP, 2023) [translator's introduction].
    • John V. Garner, “Creative Discovery: Proclus and Plato on the Emergence of Scientific Precision,” Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (2), 2020 [peer-reviewed article].
    • John V. Garner, “Foreword,” in Cornelius Castoriadis, Democracy and Relativism: A Debate (RLI, 2019) [translator's introduction].
    • John V. Garner, “Creativity and Historical Non-Being in Nikulin’s The Concept of History,” Existenz: An International Journal in Philosophy, Religion, Politics, and the Arts 14 (1), 2019 [invited article].
    • John V. Garner, “Thinking Beyond Identity: Numbers and the Identity of Indiscernibles in Plato and Proclus,” Idealistic Studies 47 (1/2), 2017 [peer-reviewed article].
    • John V. Garner, “Gadamer and the Lessons of Arithmetic in Plato’s Hippias Major,” META: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical Philosophy 9 (1), 2017 [peer-reviewed article].
    • John V. Garner, “Cornelius Castoriadis,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2011, rev. 2015 [peer-reviewed encyclopedia entry].
  • B.A., Religion, Florida State University, 2005
  • M.A., Philosophy, Villanova University, 2009
  • Ph.D., Philosophy, Villanova University, 2014

Spring 2023 Sections

Fall 2022 Sections

Spring 2022 Sections

Fall 2021 Sections

Summer 2021 Sections

Spring 2021 Sections

Fall 2020 Sections

Summer 2020 Sections

  • PHIL-4381 (Pre-Modern Aesthetics) Section: E01

Spring 2020 Sections

  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 01
  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 02
  • PHIL-3100 (Ancient & Medieval Philosophy) Section: 01W

Fall 2019 Sections

  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 01
  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 06
  • PHIL-4230 (Philosophy of Religion) Section: 01W

Spring 2019 Sections

  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 01
  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 02
  • PHIL-3110 (Modern Philosophy) Section: 01W

Fall 2018 Sections

  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 01
  • PHIL-3100 (Ancient & Medieval Philosophy) Section: 01
  • PHIL-4300 (Senior Seminar) Section: 01W

Spring 2018 Sections

  • PHIL-2010 (Intro to Philosophy) Section: 01
  • PHIL-2010 (Intro to Philosophy-Honors) Section: 25H
  • PHIL-3110 (Modern Philosophy) Section: 01

Fall 2017 Sections

  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 01
  • PHIL-3100 (Ancient & Medieval Philosophy) Section: 01
  • PHIL-3140 (Existentialism) Section: 01

Spring 2017 Sections

  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 01
  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 02
  • PHIL-4385 (Sp. Topics: German Idealism) Section: 01W

Fall 2016 Sections

  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 01
  • PHIL-3100 (Ancient & Medieval Philosophy) Section: 01
  • PHIL-4230 (Philosophy of Religion) Section: 01W

Summer 2016 Sections

  • PHIL-2010 (Introduction to Philosophy) Section: 01

Spring 2016 Sections

  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 01
  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 02
  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 03
  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 04

Fall 2015 Sections

  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 01
  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 02
  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 03
  • PHIL-3100 (Ancient & Medieval Philosophy) Section: 01

Spring 2015 Sections

  • PHIL-2010 (Introduction to Philosophy) Section: 02
  • PHIL-2010 (Introduction to Philosophy) Section: 03
  • PHIL-2010 (Introduction to Philosophy) Section: 05
  • PHIL-2020 (Critical Thinking) Section: 01

Francophone Philosophy

The Francophone world has arguably been the most productive site of creative philosophizing in the 20th and 21st centuries. Widely studied movements include existentialism, phenomenology, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, event philosophy, and the neo-realist metaphysical movement. Excellent philosophical research and scholarship that has been overlooked in English can be discovered in most branches of philosophy in the Francophone world.

Philosophy of Religion

A course on the philosophy of religion examines arguments for the plausibility, truth, or meaning of religious claims or experiences, as well as arguments regarding the status of scripture, tradition, or mystical experience (e.g. whether there can be religious "authority," evidence for religious claims, etc.). Believers and non-believers, theists and atheists, scientists, priests, psychologists, and any other interested inquirers may engage in the philosophy of religion.

Ancient Greek Philosophy

Philosophy in the ancient Greek world--which itself emerged in dialogue with near-Eastern sources--sparked a movement of thought and dialogue that has immeasurably influenced the intellectual history of much of the world. Its impact is felt in science, religion, ethics, and all of the humanities. Well-known figures include Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, the Epicureans, the Skeptics, the Neoplatonists, and Augustine. Both more and less well-known figures and texts are in a constant state of reception and re-reception among scholars.


  • The Mediation of Imagination. Does philosophy of religion stand on a ground separate from religion (to examine it neutrally)? Or is it restricted to believers or practitioners (with supposedly privileged access to the content discussed)? It could be argued, drawing on the work of Henry Corbin (and to an extent Simone Weil), that focusing on "shared imaginal patterns" (or "hidden equivalents," per Weil) between various religious traditions might help mediate this debate. Indeed, a kind of engagement which is distinct from belief or practical commitment, focusing on the "symbolic" or "imaginal," seems a key component in traditional beliefs and practices; but it also seems entirely essential for non-practitioner researchers or scholars working across traditions to engage in imagination (which is increasingly important as philosophy of religion has become more global). If attention to the symbolic, or the activity of imagination (in a non-arbitrary sense of the term), may be understood as disclosing something accessible for both the “transcendent” philosopher and the “immanent” traditionalist (i.e., something irreducible to this or that belief-claim or to empirically or intellectually available premises), then we might argue that its healthy exercise constitutes, inasmuch as it is capable of familiarity with both the inside and the outside, a powerful but underemphasized precondition for the very practice of philosophy of religion as such. This approach might lead to fruitful interventions into many traditional areas of philosophy of religion. 
  • Aristotle and Plato on the Unity of a Definition. In 'Metaphysics' Z and H Aristotle offers an account of how definitions can become unified rather than dis-unified conglomerations of terms. In this way, Aristotle provides an easy–perhaps too easy–solution to a problem from Plato: how can a multiplicity of elements in any definition “accord with” the distinctive nature of the reality being defined? For Aristotle, the higher genera encompass the lower species and yet “telescope” into the lower species. In the 'Hippias Major', by contrast, Socrates shows that there always remains in any definition the danger that a definition will contain a rogue element (or term) capable of participating in an attribute which is the opposite of that attribute shared in by the whole unity of the definition. Thus, we can never guarantee once and for all that the diversity of elements in a definition will be permanently harmonized. If we can experience the depth of this problem as Plato did, then we can recognize that the task of making good definitions is our own responsibility, i.e. not something already achieved once and for all by nature, gods, etc. It is our duty “to formulate” and “to reformulate” these accounts, hoping for them to attain an immanent sufficiency but not a once-and-for-all perfection.
  • Social Autonomy. The ideal of human autonomy is often attacked by ethicists and political philosophers for being too individualistic in focus, as well as for being anti-paternalistic in principle. In response to this critique, we can invoke the work of recent thinkers such as Cornelius Castoriadis, as well as a long history of thinkers going back to the ancients, who argue that individual and social autonomy must go hand in hand (see esp. Plato, Kant, Fichte, Simone Weil, Lucien Goldmann, Sarah Broadie). Difficulties arise, however, in discerning precisely how societies could be measured vis-à-vis the criterion of moral autonomy. Castoriadis has suggested a three-fold questioning. (1) Can the society and individuals pose the question “what is good?” (This question is presumed to be finally answered, without being questionable, in all heteronomous societies.) (2) Does the society, and do the individuals, as they work together, articulate laws expressive of this process of questioning? (3) Does the society, and do the individuals, establish effective institutions (e.g., a public-public sphere of discourse, education systems, libraries, etc.) for themselves which help them to continue to raise this question? In short, morally autonomous societies create institutional supports for continued engagement in questioning and inquiry, especially on value theoretic questions. Heteronomous societies, by contrast, actively (e.g. through laws, media, funding constraints, or disinformation) or passively (e.g. through implicit belief-codes or through providing a plethora of ready-made answers to all questions) try to prevent or discourage inquiry, especially on the question “what is good?”
  • Hope Against Theodicy. Book 19 of Augustine’s 'City of God' transforms the Platonic notion of participation in the Forms via reason into the notion of participation in the happiness of the divine city via hope and faith. This translation is difficult, however, as the very need to hope could be interpreted as nothing but evidence of a problem, lack, or fallenness. To show that some hope is valuable intrinsically, I argue that the Platonic source of the Augustinian ideas about participation in community guarantees that Augustinian hope entails, in particular, nothing like a modern, rationalist theodicy. This contrast is important, I argue, because “hope” for Augustine is not hope for there to be some kind of explanation for why there are bad things. Rather, true hope is hope for a life beyond the very need for any explanation of evil; for it is firstly a hope for life without evil, i.e. without the need to hope. If hope can thrive without the need for hoping serving as its motivator, then hope is not merely an expression of human weakness nor or a mere "comfort in danger" (Thucydides). Rather, it has an essentially good motivational core. This project also converses with Plato, Simone Weil, Ernst Bloch, Ludwig Feuerbach, Immanuel Kant, and others.
  • Incongruent Counterparts. This research aims to provide a philosophical history of the problem highlighted by Kant in his pre-critical and critical writings. My hope is to show that Kant’s concern with incongruent counterparts is part of his larger effort to understand and to restrict the validity of Leibniz’s Law. I also aim to highlight precedents for Kant’s effort in the Platonic tradition.
  • Textbook. I hope to develop a simple term logic textbook for beginners incorporating elements of Sommers’ and Englebretsen’s logic.
  • Translations. I have an ongoing interest in translating French philosophy, aesthetics, and ancient scholarship.