Philosophy professor aims to generate thought-provoking discourse in and out of class

Although philosophy professor Carlo Filice has had a remarkable career teaching at Geneseo since he started in 1985, he comes from humble beginnings that help to shape his desire to inquire into the nature of people and places around him. Filice grew up in a small, impoverished area in Italy that lacked basic luxuries such as television and running water. Despite this, Filice emphasized that he found contentment in his homeland and was happy helping out on the farm.

A turning point came for Filice when at 14 years old,  he left Italy when his parents decided to move their family to the United States for a new life in the bustling city of Chicago. Filice explained that despite his struggles in some courses due to the language barrier, he found great pride in the fact that he was still able to excel in certain subjects like math.

It was in his senior year of high school when Filice was inspired to study philosophy seriously for the first time. He started off with a combined course studying William Shakespeare, existentialism and poetry. The class helped spark Filice’s desire to learn and explore the subject further and he followed his passion all the way to obtaining his Ph.D at the University of Illinois before accepting a teaching job at Geneseo.

On top of teaching intellectually engaging classes such as HUMN 221: Western Humanities II, PHIL 201: Environmental Ethics and PHIL 330: Ethical Theory, Filice has channeled his love of philosophy into literary accomplishments and proven himself as a masterful writer. Not only has Filice had a myriad of articles about philosophical topics published, but he had his book The Purpose of Life: An Eastern Philosophical Vision published in 2011.

Filice explained that in his book, he attempts to answer questions such as, “Is there an overall purpose for our being here [and] what that could be?”

While the outcome is undoubtedly rewarding, Filice admitted that writing—especially about philosophical topics—requires a great deal of dedication and commitment. “Writing in general is never an easy task,” Filice said. “It takes a lot of discipline.”

Despite struggles he has faced in his journey to explore and share his passions with others, Filice emphasized that sharing knowledge and thought is an integral part of the human experience.

“We, as humans, are here to fulfil various kinds of values … we are here to produce excellence in different areas, including the task of trying to make the world a fair world,” Filice said. “One of our jobs as humans is maybe to think on behalf of the universe.”

While the job of a philosophy professor is certainly not an easy one, Filice noted that he thoroughly enjoys working to critically examine and discuss complex issues, especially with his students.

“I hope as a teacher, I make people aware of the complexity of things; we as human are given this gift to think abstractly and reflectively,” he said. “We are all philosophers by nature because we all want to make sense of things.”

For Filice, the greatest reward is the happiness he feels when his class actively participates and engages in course material; showing the clear value in generating discourse over matters that require students to use both their heads and hearts.