Dr. George Heffernan earned his B.A. and M.A. at The Catholic University of America and his Ph.D. at the University of Cologne. He also 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 the University of Notre Dame.
Specializing in topics in phenomenology, hermeneutics, and existentialism, Dr. Heffernan concentrates on questions of evidence, understanding, and meaning. He has presented numerous papers at scholarly conferences, including the World Congress of Philosophy, the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, the American Philosophical Association, the American Catholic Philosophical Association, the Husserl Circle, the Albert Camus Society, the Gabriel Marcel Society, the North American Society for Early Phenomenology, the Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists, and the Organization of Phenomenological Organizations. 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 that addresses the perennial epistemological issues raised in Hellenistic skepticism, recast in Cartesian rationalism, and revised in contemporary theory of knowledge.
Dr. 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, Dr. 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, Dr. 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.
B.A. and M.A. from Catholic University of America; Ph.D. from University of Cologne, Germany
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