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Former Faculty Feature: Joseph Levine

headshot of Joseph Levine

In Fall 1986, Joseph Levine joined NC State as an assistant professor of philosophy. He had earned the Ph.D. in Philosophy at Harvard in 1981, after which he taught for three years at Boston University followed by two at Bates College before coming to NC State. He was promoted to associate professor in 1990 and to professor in 1996. He resigned in 2000 to take up a position at the Ohio State University. In 2006, he moved on to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is still a professor of philosophy, having served as chair of its philosophy department from 2013 to 2019.

During his fourteen years at NC State, Levine taught many sections of core courses in logic and philosophy, including the introductory and intermediate logic courses, introduction to philosophy, political philosophy and philosophy of mind. He also taught an advanced undergraduate introduction to cognitive science and a number of courses on special topics, including one on philosophical issues concerning nuclear arms. At various points, he served as Director of the Philosophy Honors Program and Advisor to the Philosophy Club.

A specialist in the philosophy of mind, Levine published several journal articles in this field while at NC State, mostly on the nature of conscious experience, but also on other topics regarding the computational model of mind. His scholarly work was supported by a one-year fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1990/91; and wrote the manuscript of his book, Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, 2001) during his last couple of years at NC State, but it didn’t come out until after he had left.

While living in the NC Triangle, Levine also spent a lot of time on political projects outside the university, mostly involving work with Central America solidarity organizations resisting US domination of the region and, to a larger extent, working with Palestine solidarity organizations in the area. He is still engaged in political issues, on which he has recently contributed several articles to public media.

Although he was raised in Southern California and has lived in Western Massachusetts for fifteen years with his spouse Louise Antony (who was a member of the NC State philosophy faculty from 1986 until 1993), he still thinks of the Triangle as a second home. They loved the area, where their kids grew up, and formed strong friendships among their colleagues and others whom they met here.

Since leaving NC State, Levine has published many more papers in philosophy of mind, a number of which are collected in a volume entitled Quality and Content: Essays on Consciousness, Representation, and Modality (Oxford University Press, 2018). Levine has also developed his interest in political philosophy, with which he has become more engaged. He plans to retire in a couple of years and spend most of his time on learning to play the piano and working in political philosophy.