MaryEllen Waithe (Dr. Mary Ellen Waithe), Ph.D.
 Title: Professor
 Dept: Philosophy and Comparative Religion
 Office: RT 1334
 Phone: 216-687-9262,  216-687-4675
 Address: 2121 Euclid Ave. RT 1334, Cleveland, OH 44115

Courses Taught


Faculty Only:
Update Profile

Research Keywords:
Search under variants of my name: ME Waithe, Waithe M, Waithe, Mary Ellen. Free research tip to find material lost in cyberspace: 1. Misspell your keyword/search term. For example, search for M Wait, or ME Waith. 2.(this is really a stretch, but it works) on the keyboard, move your fingers on one hand, over one key to the right & type your keyword. "Keyword" becomes "leuwprd". Hit enter. Try it one key leftwards, one row above the "home keys" and one below.
Ph.D., Philosophy, University of Minnesota
B.A., Philosophy, City University of New York - Hunter College
Brief Bio:
I love teaching and I love being a scholar. I've taught philosophy in medical schools, nursing schools, dental schools, and psychiatric prisons -- not as an inmate;)  In order to do so successfully, I've needed to learn a lot about the underlying science and professional practice in those fields.  In the process I became very interested in the history of medicine.

I try to instill in my students a sense of wonder and curiosity about very basic questions: who are we? What is our universe really like? What's so special about being human? How do we act rightly?  

I run a democratic classroom in which I am a benevolent softy of a despot! There are only two ways to "do" philosophy: communicate your ideas in writing, or communicate them orally.  Therefore my students are encouraged to think things through out loud and to share their insights with others, learning from one another as well as from me.  Here's the "despot" part: I draw the line at three things: first, we must all treat one another with respect, so sexist,racist, homophobic and xenophobic attitudes are unwelcome.  Second, dominating the classroom discussion is also unwelcome. Third, we need to stick to the course subject matter.  

As a scholar, I insist that students seek new sources of information on their own, but I will accompany students to the library and teach them how to search.  As an author, I strive to help students improve their writing skills even when I teach courses that are not writing courses.  

I believe that philosophy is at the very core of almost everything that we as human beings do and hold dear.  I find it amazing that physicians and nurses in my bioethics courses have given little thought to the question "what is a body and is it distinct from mind?"  If you don't know, how do you treat or heal either one?

I especially love teaching the history of philosophy.  The great thinkers were people just like us: they lived in societies that were grappling with difficult problems and that were exploring new vistas.  If you don't have a clue about the historical context in which a particular work of philosophy was written you simply won't get as much out of reading it.  I do not teach the history of philosophy without teaching the contributions of women and non-whites to it.

My last major publication was a translation a work by a 16th-century Spanish woman about philosophy of medicine.  This work, accomplished with a former student, Maria Vintro, M.A., and a former colleague, C. Angel Zorita, Ph.D. now retired from the Department of Modern Languages, combines my interests in bioethics, history of medicine, women philosophers and early modern philosophy. Working on the translation and the related research gave me an opportunity to improve my Spanish.  Another recent project was to contribute a chapter contrasting the philosophical positions of Heloise against those of Abelard, her teacher, husband and later, her religious superior.  I enjoyed drawing out their views from their recently discovered correspondence and their published philosophical works.

My next major research project will probably involve translating works by French women philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries.  Olympe de Gouges was guillotined for publishing her views on the rights of blacks.  I'd like to understand why.

Philosophy is the world's second oldest profession:) There's a great big world of ideas out there and I love introducing students to it.
Creative and Activities:
In 2007, with the expert assistance of IMS Multimedia Services guru Jim Bandes I created my very first DVD! (I'm technologically impaired.) The DVD is called "Busted!! A Pictorial History of Women Philosophers from Antiquity to the 21st Century." It played non-stop in the Library during Women's History Month in March and April, 2008. I also presented it at an American Philosophical Association national conference that year.
Research Interests:
-Women's contributions to philosophy from ancient times until the end of the 20th century.

-Native people's philosophy: Native American, Mayan, Australian Aboriginal and other "first people's" thought.

-Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, other well-established schools of philosophy outside the western tradition.

-History of Medicine and philosophy of medicine.
Teaching Areas:
-I love teaching Intro (bring your Leggos!)

-I regularly teach Philosophy of Religion (because so many college students are at the point in their lives where they are exploring religious views other than those of their parents).

-I often teach health care ethics (for health care students) and I used to teach a lot of bioethics (for clinicians) because the complex science upon which health care practice is based creates many moral dilemmas for patients, practitioners and government. (My attitude is: if you have a body, you have a vested interest in health care ethics).

-I love teaching the history of early modern philosophy (bring a spool of ribbon so we can make the "web" of the 17th and 18th centuries)and related courses in non-western philosophy, women philosophers, and special topics in philosophy.

I also love teaching Non-Western Philosophy from A to Z -- from the dreaming metaphysics of Aboriginal peoples to the social philosophy of Zoroaster.  I teach this for the same reasons I teach the history of women philosophers: I think that it is simply morally wrong for the discipline of philosophy to impart the impression that such abstract thought was only undertaken by white males of European descent.  As teachers (and most philosophers are teachers)if we fail to inform students that women and non-whites have at least as ancient a tradition of philosophical contributions as the Greeks and Romans had, then we are deceiving our students and perpetuating a hurtful myth.
Professional Affiliations:
American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division

Society for the Study of Women Philosophers

American Association for the History of Medicine
University Service:
I try to be a good citizen of the university by volunteering for committee work as needed.  I've spent many years on university research committees, and a few on promotion and tenure committees for the college.
Professional Service:
I regularly review manuscripts of prospective books written by other philosophers. I referee papers submitted to journals such as Hypatia the Journal of Feminist Philosophy.  I've reviewed grant applications for the US and Canadian governments.
Community Service:
I volunteer annually for local organizations that are fighting for social justice and equality for gays and lesbians because I think straight folks should stand up for equal rights for people who are not straight.  I volunteer to work phone banks for the Democratic Party during election season IF there are important amendments to the state constitution to support, or IF I agree with a slate of candidates. (I don't believe in automatically voting along party lines, but ENOUGH of my politics, right?)