Matthew Goodwin, Ph.D.

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Dr. Matthew Goodwin has been teaching philosophy for 11 years and is currently a member of the Philosophy Department at Northern Arizona University. He specializes in phenomenology, environmental ethics, and philosophy of art. He has presented on areas of significance in northern Arizona, including the Grand Canyon and James Turrell's Roden Crater. He is an Arizona Humanities Road Scholar and has worked with the Sedona International Film Festival and the Museum of Northern Arizona to highlight the philosophical significance of issues in art, film, and the Colorado Plateau. He is trained in philosophy from Southern Illinois University, University of South Carolina, and Ohio University.

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Matthew's Guiding Experience

Matthew first saw the Grand Canyon with his older brother in 1979. He did not make it back again until 2010 when he promptly began exploring the Canyon at every opportunity and reading everything about it whenever he was away from it. He found his philosophical training energized by this spectacular wonder and loves to share the philosophical side of this place that naturally raises so many questions.

Matthew has driven a Grand Canyon tour van for both Angel's Gate Tours and Arizona Tour and Travel Group. He has worked as "work-your-way" assistant (also known as the "swamper") on a motorized river trip with Arizona Raft Adventures.

Matthew’s Upcoming Sedona Philosophy Programs

Matthew’s Public Presentations

"Aldo Leopold in Arizona," AZ Humanities AZ Speaks presentation, Prescott Public Library, Prescott, AZ, November 17, 2019.

"Climate and Moral Responsibility," AZ Humanities AZ Speaks presentation, Joel Valdez Main Library, Tucson, AZ, April 13, 2019.

"Why Dark Skies Matter," Red Rock State Park, Sedona, AZ, July 8, 2019.

"Climate and Moral Responsibility," AZ Humanities AZ Speaks presentation, Copper Queen Library, Bisbee, AZ, January 9, 2018.

"Global Warming: A Philosophical Approach," Keep Sedona Beautiful, Sedona, AZ, April 12, 2017.

Hot Topics Café: Pros and Cons of a Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument. Wednesday, September 9, 2015. 6:30 - 8 p.m. Museum of Northern Arizona.

“Sustainability Issues in Arizona,” Arizona Humanities Speaker Series, Copper Queen Library, Bisbee, AZ, May 26, 2015.

“James Turrell’s Roden Crater Project,” ARTiculate, Snowdrift Artspace, Winslow, AZ, April 17, 2015.

“Sustainability Issues in Arizona,” Arizona Humanities Speaker Series, Prescott Public Library, Prescott, AZ, December 4, 2014.

“A Philosophy of Light and Space: James Turrell’s Roden Crater Art Project,” NAU Summer Seminar Series, La Posada Hotel, Winslow, AZ, May 7, 2013.

Matthew’s Academic Presentations

“Surrealism and The Retrieval of the Beautiful,” Book Session Panel on Galen Johnson's book, The Retrieval of the Beautiful: Thinking Through Merleau-Ponty’s Aesthetics, for the 50th Annual Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy conference, Philadelphia, PA, October 20, 2011.

“More than Sublime: A Phenomenology of the Grand Canyon,” Southwest Seminar in Continental Philosophy, Flagstaff, AZ, May 29, 2015.

“The Art, Science, and Philosophy of the James Turrell Roden Crater Project,” the annual meeting of the American Society of Aesthetics, San Diego, CA, November 1, 2013.

“Hot Topics Café: Engage Your Community in Civil Discussions about Contentious Issues,” 21st Century Citizens: Building Bridges, Solving Problems, American Democracy Project and the Democracy Commitment National Meeting, Denver, CO, June 8, 2013.

“Science, Surrealism, and Object Fetishism,” International Merleau-Ponty Circle Conference, University of North Carolina Asheville, September 25, 2010.

“Surrealist Techniques and the Phenomenological Method,” Society for Phenomenology and Human Sciences (SPHS), George Mason University, Arlington, VA, October 31, 2009.”

“The Flexuous Lines of Anarchitecture,” International Merleau-Ponty Circle, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS, September 12, 2009

“Art, Image Consciousness and Husserl’s Genetic Method,” Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP), Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, October 18, 2008.

G: An Aesthetic Phenomenology of the Universal Gravitational Constant,” Midsouth Philosophy Conference, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, February 2008.

“Art and the Deflagration of Being: Setting Passivity Afire,” M.C. Dillon Memorial Lecture, International Merleau-Ponty Circle, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, September 2007.

“Establishing the Perceptual Bearings of Thought,” New Mexico-West Texas Philosophical Society Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, March 2007.

“Merleau-Ponty’s Aesthetic Examples: The Motifs of Art and Phenomenology,” American Society for Aesthetics Annual Meeting, Milwaukee, WI, October 2006.

“Art in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology,” Midsouth Philosophy Conference, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, February 2006.

“Deleuze and the Matter of Film: How Cinematic Examples Turn Theory into Film,” Midsouth Philosophy Conference, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, February 2004.

“Hannah Arendt on Good Imagination: The Possibility of Violence,” Society for Phenomenology and Human Sciences (SPHS), Boston College, Boston, MA, November 2003.

“The Phenomenological Voice of Derrida in Speech and Phenomena,” Midsouth Philosophy Conference, University of Memphis, TN, February 2002.

“Necessary Risk in Rawls’ A Theory of Justice,” Graduate Student Day, University of South Carolina, April 1997.

Matthew's Academic Writing

“Book Review of Ariella Azoulay’s, The Civil Contract of Photography,” SCTIW Review: Journal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World, March 17, 2015.

Forthcoming: “Of Earth and Sky: The Phenomenology of James Turrell’s Roden Crater Project,” Phenomenology and the Arts, edited by Peter Costello and Licia Carlson, Lexington Books (Rowman and Littlefield). Book and chapter proposal accepted July 8, 2014.

“Art and the Deflagration of Being: Setting Passivity Afire.” Phenomenology 2010, Volume 5: Selected Essays from North America Part 1: Phenomenology within Philosophy. Edited by Michael Barber, Lester Embree and Thomas J. Nenon. Bucharest: Zeta Books, 2010. PP. 285-306.

In Depth

Matthew’s M.A. thesis, Kant and Lyotard on the Sublime (1998), investigates the 18th century concept of the sublime from a late 20th century perspective. The sublime is the experience of something too great to perceive in one glance--something that appears absolute. Vast, expansive landscapes, like the Grand Canyon, and the starry skies above are perhaps the most familiar examples. In this project, Matthew investigates and compares Immanuel Kant’s concept of the sublime with that of post-structuralist philosopher Jean-François Lytoard. Lyotard considers how the sublime helps to articulate what he calls “incredulity toward meta-narratives,” or a disbelief that a single explanation could encompass all viewpoints. This disbelief is fuelled by things like prejudice. Prejudice is the tendency to judge individuals based on what we think we know of a group. This is a very natural tendency for thought, to subsume individual instances under previously known generalizations, but it threatens to stifle the absolute of individuality--a correspondingly vast landscape.

Matthew's Ph.D. dissertation, The Artist and the Philosopher: the Aesthetic Phenomenological Method of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (2007), investigates the unique way phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty uses art. Phenomenology, broadly construed is a careful investigation into the great variety of human experiences. Nothing is out of bounds: perception, memory, anticipation, expression, creativity, even work, play, and religious experiences, are all unique modes of participating in the world. Early phenomenologists started with fairly standardized methods for looking at these experiences. But Merleau-Ponty goes beyond these static methods to explore the reports of artists in their pursuit to express their art. Through this approach Merleau-Ponty develops phenomenology in a uniquely aesthetic, perceptual, and expressive way. The very content of our analysis is modified through our analyzing it, but this does not mean all hope is lost for knowing the world.


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