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Shannon Dea

Associate Professor, (Academic Advisor of the Women's Studies Program), (Teaching Fellow)

Contact Information                                                  

Shannon Dea portraitOffice:  HH 329
Phone:  519-888-4567  x32778
Website: Arts Teaching Fellow

Shannon Dea is the Academic Advisor of the Women's Studies program, received the Arts Award 2016 for Excellence in Teaching in addition to one of the inaugural Arts Awards 2013 for service and the Province of Ontario's Leading Women Building Communities Award in 2012. Shannon was also selected as one of the inaugural Teaching Fellows for the Faculty of Arts by Doug Peers, Dean of Arts, on September 10, 2012.


PhD, University of Western Ontario
MA, Queen’s University
BA, University of Waterloo

Areas of Interest

Early Modern Philosophy, Classic Pragmatism, and Philosophy of Gender

Current Research

I am currently researching the connections that Peirce discerned among Spinoza, Berkeley and Kant, and the clues that these connections give us about Peirce’s distinctive doctrine of pragmaticism. In a related project, I am working on metaphysical synechism – the view that the universe is at bottom continuous rather than discrete – and its applications in ethics. This project began with a paper that considers the merits of deploying Peirce’s synechism to better understand human (biological) sex distinctions. I am currently preparing this article for journal submission. Finally, on a completely different tack, I am finishing up a research project on the effectiveness of small group work and the use of a learning commons in teaching Philosophy to undergraduates.

Academic Biography

My academic history involves tentacles, distractions and unusual delays. I did my UW undergraduate study in Philosophy and Russian as a mature student looking to wrestle with big ideas rather than the workforce. However, the (non-academic) workforce drew me back for nine years, during which time I was a waiter, a school photographer, a yoga teacher and a physiotherapy aide. When I returned to school to do my MA at Queen’s, I thought I’d end up working on social philosophy, especially on issues involving prisons (because of volunteer work I’d been doing with women prisoners, ex-offenders and i.v. drug users), but instead I became interested in philosophical hermeneutics, writing my thesis on Hans-Georg Gadamer’s characterization of how science works. This inspired me to go to Western to do PhD research on philosophy of science in the continental tradition. Again though, I got distracted, this time by the history of philosophy. I ended up specializing in early modern philosophy, and writing a seemingly improbable dissertation on the 19th-20th century American pragmatist Charles Sanders Peirce and the 17th century continental rationalist, Baruch Spinoza. Since then, I’ve remained interested in – and continue to work on – the ways in which philosophers understand and are influenced by each other, and by other thinkers and movements. However, I also continue to be distracted by other stuff. Most recently, developing my Philosophy 202 “Gender Issues” course has involved me in really interesting new research on the metaphysics of sex – specifically the question of how many human sexes there actually are (and related meta-questions about that question). And, my undergraduate teaching and my work as departmental undergraduate chair led me into research on the scholarship of teaching and learning – trying to sort out the best way to teach Philosophy. I used to worry about all of the tentacles in my research, but nowadays, I see more and more connections between the often disparate things I’m interested in. I encourage my students too to follow their many curiosities. Out of diversity, interesting shapes emerge.

Selected Publications

  • Heidegger and Galileo’s Slippery Slope,” Dialogue 48 (2009) 59-76.
  • “Firstness, Evolution and the Absolute in Peirce's Spinoza,” Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 44.4 (2008) 603-628.
  • “Hume, Spinoza and the Achilles Inference,” The Achilles of Rationalist Psychology. Thomas M. Lennon and Robert Stainton, Eds. Dordrecht: Springer, 2008.
  • With Thomas M. Lennon, “Continental Rationalism,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (November 2007).
  • “‘Merely a Veil Over the Living Thought’: Mathematics and Logic in Peirce’s Forgotten Spinoza Review.” Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 42.4 (Fall 2006) 501-517.
  • “Thomas Reid’s Rigourized Anti-Hypotheticalism.” The Journal of Scottish Philosophy 3.2 (October 2005) 123-138.

Grants, Fellowships, Awards

  • SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) Standard Research Grant, “The river of pragmatism: Spinoza, Berkeley, Kant and Peirce,” (2010-2013)
  • UW (University of Waterloo) Learning Initiatives Fund Grant, “Small-group Work in a Learning Commons: Its Effect on Learning Outcomes and Student Engagement Among Philosophy Majors,” (2008-2010)
  • UW/SSHRC Seed Grant, “The UW Peirce Research Centre,” (2008-2009)
  • Kristeller-Popkin Travel Fellowship, Journal of the History of Philosophy (2008)
  • Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada (SWAAC) Graduate Student Award of Merit (2007)
  • UWO (University of Western Ontario) University Students Council Teaching Honour Roll Award of Excellence (2006 and 2007)
  • SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, “Peirce and Spinoza’s Surprising Pragmaticism,” (2005-2007)
  • Charles Sanders Peirce Society Essay Prize for “‘Merely a Veil Over the Living Thought’: Math and Logic in Peirce’s Forgotten Spinoza Review” (2005)
  • Richard Hadden Book Prize for best graduate paper presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science (2004 and 2005)

Recent Graduate Supervision and Teaching

Graduate Theses and Research Papers:

  • The Metaphysics of Sex
  • Common Sense Within the Bounds of Philosophy: Reid’s Philosophy of Common Sense Defended
  • Natural Deniability: The Character of Negation in Humean Thought
  • The Episodic Nature of “Blessedness” in Spinoza’s Ethics

Courses, Seminars and Areas:

  • Peirce
  • Descartes and the Cartesians
  • The Achilles Inference and the Unity of Consciousness
  • Spinoza’s Ethics
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