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George Heffernan, Ph.D.



George Heffernan holds the highest degree in the German language awarded by the Goethe Institute of Munich as well as the diploma of a state-certified translator and interpreter for the German language granted by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Bonn. Before joining Merrimack College, he taught at the University of Bonn and University of Notre Dame.

Specializing in topics in phenomenology, hermeneutics and existentialism, Heffernan concentrates on questions of evidence, understanding and meaning. He has presented numerous papers at scholarly conferences, including the World Congress of Philosophy, Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, American Philosophical Association, American Catholic Philosophical Association, Husserl Circle, Albert Camus Society, Gabriel Marcel Society, North American Society for Early Phenomenology, Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists and Organization of Phenomenological Organizations.

Professor Heffernan in Socrates' Prison at the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy, Athens, Greece, August 4–10, 2013.

He has also published numerous monographs in peer-reviewed venues, including Phaenomenologica, Husserl Studies, the New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy, Studia phaenomenologica, Analecta Husserliana, Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy, Horizon: Studies in Phenomenology, The European Legacy, the Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine, the Journal of Camus Studies, Marcel Studies, and the International Journal of the Humanities. He is completing an edition of “Augustine’s Against the Academicians,” which addresses the perennial epistemological issues raised in Hellenistic skepticism, recast in Cartesian rationalism, and revised in contemporary theory of knowledge.

Heffernan’s achievements have been recognized with numerous grants, for example, from the Basselin Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts at the University of Notre Dame, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dr. Heffernan is active in a number of professional organizations and has served as a Research Ambassador for the German Academic Exchange Service since 2009. For fifteen years he organized the Augustinian-themed Cassiciacum Dialogues at Merrimack College.

In his teaching, Heffernan represents philosophy as the pursuit of wisdom in all its theoretical, practical, and poetical expressions. He supports an understanding of philosophy as the interdisciplinary discipline par excellence, but also as the one that addresses the specifically human questions about existence, meaning, and value. He especially enjoys educating his students to see how the examination of their experiences, involving critical thinking and yielding reflective thoughts, can help them to live meaningful lives by enabling them to make sense of the world.

In his free time, Heffernan likes to visit other countries, experience diverse cultures and encounter different people. He especially enjoys trips to world heritage and historical sites, for example, the obscure city-state prison (desmoterion) of the Classical period near the market-square (agora) of ancient Athens, the most likely location at which the Greek philosopher Socrates drank the hemlock in 399 B.C.E.


Ph.D., University of Cologne, Germany
M.A., Catholic University of America
B.A., Catholic University of America


  • PHL 1000: Introduction to Philosophy
  • PHL 2030: Contemporary Moral Problems
  • PHL 2080: Approaches to Ethics
  • PHL 2250: Philosophy of Happiness
  • PHL 2350: Philosophy of Augustine
  • PHL 2500: Theories of Justice
  • PHL 2850: Philosophical Hermeneutics
  • PHL 3160: Modern Philosophy
  • PHL 3180: Existentialism
  • PHL 4010: Contemporary Continental Philosophy
  • PHL 4020: Theory of Knowledge




Sullivan 107C

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