Faculty & Staff

Mark Hopwood

Assistant Professor of Philosophy
B.A. and MA Oxford; Ph.D University of Chicago


I believe that everyone is capable of doing philosophy. No matter who you’re talking to, if you run through a list of philosophical questions, you will find one that hits a nerve. What does it really mean to love another person? Is beauty merely in the eye of the beholder? Does the government have the right to redistribute wealth? Is there any form of speech that ought to be prohibited? Is there an inevitable conflict between science and religion? How could a loving God allow innocent people to suffer? When people say that they aren’t interested in philosophy or that they don’t see the point of it, in my experience that is not because they haven’t thought about any of these questions, but because they have become convinced that no one else is likely to find their responses interesting or valuable. The job of teaching philosophy, as I understand it, is a matter of getting people to see that their views on these questions do matter, but also that it isn’t enough simply to state your opinions – you need to be able to support your claims with reasoned argument, and to be capable of understanding the arguments in favor of positions that are different from your own.

I studied philosophy at the University of Oxford and the University of Chicago, where I wrote my PhD dissertation on the 20th century philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch. At Sewanee, I teach classes in moral and political philosophy, the philosophy of art, ancient philosophy, and 20th century continental philosophy. My research focuses on questions about the nature of love and beauty and what it means to see others as morally valuable. Right now, my work in progress includes a couple of papers on Iris Murdoch and one on the role of beauty in moral judgment. I have two forthcoming publications: "Only Connect: Moral Judgment, Embodiment, and Hypocrisy in Howards End" in Philosophy and Literature, and "The Extremely Difficult Realization That Something Other Than Oneself Is Real: Iris Murdoch on Love and Moral Agency" in the European Journal of Philosophy. Drafts of selected papers can be viewed here.

Outside of my teaching and research, I am a passionate soccer fan, a limited but enthusiastic rock drummer, a lifelong Anglican, a former community organizer, and a proud husband (of Cassie Meyer) and father (of Esme Hopwood-Meyer). During my time in Chicago, I was also the co-host of a philosophy podcast, Elucidations, which continues to offer 30-minute interviews with philosophers on a range of different topics (and is available on iTunes).



Areas of Expertise

Moral and political philosophy, philosophy of art, ancient philosophy, 20th century continental philosophy, philosophy and literature.