The word “ergo” is both Latin and Greek. In Latin, it means “hence” or “therefore” and indicates the drawing of a conclusion. In Greek, it means “work.”
The philosopher’s work is to reason his or her way to sound conclusions with respect to questions basic not only to the other academic disciplines but to human experience more generally. What kinds of beings are human beings? What distinguishes us from other animals? What is knowledge? What, if anything, can we know? What is it to act rationally and how is acting rationally related to acting morally? What, if anything, is morally required of us? In what sense, if any, are our actions ever free? Is there a mind-independent reality, and if so, of what is it composed? And how, if at all, are minds able to grasp it?
Wrestling with these sorts of questions is hard work—philosophical work. It is the work pursued by the students and faculty of our Department of Philosophy. Progress here can be slow. Some questions must be clarified, often a difficult undertaking itself, before they can be answered. But like other academic disciplines, philosophy makes progress. In this issue of Ergo, the UT Department of Philosophy Newsletter, we report on the academic year just concluded and invite you to draw your own conclusions about our efforts at contributing toward the important work philosophers do.