Patrick Toner | Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • PToner

    Patrick Toner

    Class of 2002

    Majors: Philosophy

    Dr. Patrick Toner ’01, MA ’02 calls himself a “proud alumnus” of Franciscan University. Now an associate professor of philosophy at Wake Forest University, Toner received both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in philosophy from Franciscan, then his PhD from the University of Virginia. He subsequently spent a year on a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion.

    At Wake Forest, Toner teaches and writes about metaphysics, philosophy of religion, and the history of philosophy. He says that he borrows a lot from Aristotle and the medieval scholastics, particularly St. Thomas Aquinas.

    “In St. Thomas, I find a truth-teller.  But to some extent, it's a cheat for me to say that St. Thomas is my favorite philosopher.  It's kind of like answering that The Lord of the Rings is my favorite non-biblical book—it's in too different a class from others to count.”

    At his blog site, Lift Up Thine Eyes, Toner writes about current issues and often about celebrated American painter Norman Rockwell. Toner is also in the process of writing a book about the worldview that shaped Norman Rockwell’s art.

    It was Dr. Patrick Lee, professor of philosophy and director of Franciscan University’s Center for Bioethics, who “played the biggest role in my philosophical development,” said Toner. “In retrospect, his graduate class ‘Body and Soul’ was hugely influential, not least because of the ease with which I saw Lee moving back and forth between the thought of St. Thomas and the work of contemporary analytic metaphysicians. Dr. Lee was doing in that class what I was coming to think I wanted to do.”

    Franciscan’s Philosophy Program allowed Toner to flourish as he continued his education and began his career. Although some of his beloved professors have since retired or moved on from Franciscan, Toner has confidence in the program. “Franciscan has hired truly excellent Christian philosophers in recent years, who are well suited to continue the department's exemplary work,” Toner said. “This becomes increasingly important to me as my older children begin to enter the upper reaches of high school.  I hope that those of them who decide to go to college will be heading to Steubenville. Thank God for Franciscan University.”

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