Philosophy Party 2015 (Jul 13)

The NUS Philosophy Department cordially invites our commencing students, the incoming honours students, alumni and faculty to our Philosophy Party 2015. Do join us for an evening of good food and even better company! The party will be held at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House, Seminar Room 2 on 13 July (Monday) from 6 – 9.30 p.m. We will be sending out invitations by email soon – in the meantime, save the date, spread the word, and we look forward to seeing you then!

Professor Ten Chin Liew awarded Emeritus Professorship by NUS



The Department of Philosophy proudly and heartily congratulates Professor Ten Chin Liew on being conferred the title of Emeritus Professor by NUS.

Professor Ten has accumulated over 25 years of service to the University, including 6½ years as Head of the Department of Philosophy, and countless hours as a dedicated and inspiring teacher and supervisor. He is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on the political philosophy of J.S. Mill, and has contributed nationally in the areas of bioethics and laboratory animal research. Professor Ten’s ideas have influenced the likes of H.L.A. Hart (the preeminent legal philosopher of the 20th century), Joseph Raz (arguably the most important living legal philosopher), Nigel Walker (the great British criminologist), and Wayne Sumner (the distinguished Canadian legal and political philosopher). He has been a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities since 1989, and of the Academy of Social Sciences since 2000.

On this occasion the faculty, staff, and students of the Philosophy department, both current and former, would like to express our deep gratitude to Professor Ten for his invaluable contributions. We join the University in honoring an outstanding alumnus, who is also a cherished colleague, mentor and friend.

Note: The title of Emeritus Professor is conferred on a professor who is on or near retirement in recognition of the professor’s sustained contributions in terms of distinguished scholarship and conspicuous service to the University. (NUS University Statutes and Regulations, Regulation 8)

Raffles Institution Inter-school Philosophy Dialogue 2015: Call for Facilitators

The Philosophy Department of Raffles Institution has been organising an annual inter-school philosophy dialogue for secondary school students for the past 11 years. The dialogue session have students engaging one another in small group discussions based on a variety of stimuli revolving around a number of philosophical themes.These discussion sessions are facilitated by teachers who are teaching philosophy in schools across Singapore, many of them alumni of NUS Philosophy. This year, in the spirit of SG50 and NUS 110, the Department of Philosophy, NUS, is sponsoring the event, with the aim of nurturing the art of philosophical discussion, as well as connecting with our alumni members at the event.

Event: Inter-School Philosophy Dialogue: SG50 Edition
Date: 30 May 2015 (Sat)
Time: 8.00 am – 12.30 pm
Venue: Raffles Institution (Year 1 – 4 campus)

The organisers have also extended an invitation for faculty members, graduate students and advance undergraduate students to join them as facilitators. If you are keen to join in this celebration of Philosophy, do sign up at: and the organisers will get in touch with you with more detailed info at a later date.

A Word from an Alumni: What can I do with a philosophy degree?

3eb4b70(The writer of the following is Lester Lim, who graduated with a degree in philosophy from NUS in 2010. His honors thesis revolved around the treatment of language by French deconstructionist thinker Jacques Derrida, and the Madhyamika works of Nagarjuna. He currently works as an investment associate for a UK private equity firm.)

THE MOST COMMON questions undergraduates have when considering in taking up a degree in philosophy is “What can I do with such a degree?” or “What are my career prospects, other than being an academic?” Unfortunately these are also the most practical questions that put off otherwise what would be a very rewarding four-year undergraduate period reading philosophy. It is not too far off to say that philosophy is perhaps the most misunderstood degree in the today’s world.

I stood at that path some five to six years ago at the second year of my university when I had to decide on my major. Researching on what some philosophy graduates did after obtaining a degree painted a rather bleak picture – some ended up in teaching, others in generalist positions in the civil service or private sector – nothing that I was too excited about. I was convinced however that philosophy – being such a crucial study of human thought, and thinking – was critically needed in today’s world, where an overload of information oftentimes obscures clarity of thought, and innovation is strikingly absent.

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Philosophy Commencement and Alumni Party 2014 & 60th Anniversary of NUS Philosophy


For the second time running, the Department of Philosophy held its Commencement and Alumni Party at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House (1st August). The party saw a turnout of nearly 50 guests comprising honours and graduating students, Alumni, and Faculty members, all mingling over food and drink. This event also marked the 60th anniversary of the philosophy department, a significant milestone in its history.


The event was hosted by emcee Xue En, an honours student of the department. The festivities were officially kicked off by acting Head of Department, A/P Michael Pelczar. The food was a delicious spread of dishes ranging from Shepherds’ Pie to Laksa. All these were complemented by a mix of unique craft beers, kindly sponsored by several faculty members. Much as the night was about food and drink, it was also about philosophy and reconnecting with old friends: Alumni got to reacquaint themselves with old classmates and teachers, while graduating students were given an opportunity to forge new friendships with those that have graduated before them. The attendees spent the evening exchanging both philosophical ideas as well as snippets of their personal experiences, having fruitful discussions on all aspects of life.

IMG_9575During the party, Cheryl, a member of the graduating cohort delivered a speech on her own experiences in the Department of Philosophy, fondly recalling the unique experiences that she had during her time as a student and her year-long exchange in Edinburgh. Without a doubt, one of the highlights of the evening was a speech by former head of the Philosophy department, Prof. Ten Chin Liew, who treated everyone to reminiscences of his experiences at the department, both as a young undergraduate, and also as a faculty member. While acknowledging that some may be unhappy to have their youthful mischief so exposed, he thought the risk worth taking given that some of the people mentioned are already dead, or too far away to take their revenge, he said with a twinkle in his eye – much to the amusement of all who were present.


To commemorate the special occasion, a mug specially designed by A/P John Holbo, very much our resident artist, was presented to each guest. It carries the byline-“Come for the answers, stay for the questions”—familiar to several generations of philosophy students by now. The Office of Alumni Relations also generously sponsored gifts for each graduating student. A/P Holbo’s talents were further showcased on the design of the department’s 60th anniversary cake. If the mug bears the motif of an Athenian coin, the cake carries a quote from Confucius’ Analects passage 2.4, and a doodle of the Master himself. The juxtaposition of the two designs—one alluding to the beginnings of the discipline in the ancient West, the other to the parallel sources of wisdom’s study in the East—highlights the inclusive nature of the department. After a bout of photos with all the guests, the cake was cut by Professor Pelzar and Professor Ten and witnessed by members of the faculty present.


The event concluded with closing words by A/P Loy Hui-Chieh, and the promise of an even better party next year. As the guests reluctantly prepared to leave, they ended the evening by taking pictures with specially prepared Polaroid cameras, taking home a personalised memoir of their time at the party, which was nothing short of a rousing success.

For more photos, please visit our facebook photo album of the event.


Philosophy Commencement and Alumni Party 2014

The NUS Philosophy department cordially invites all alumni and graduating students to the Philosophy Commencement and Alumni Party 2014. Come reconnect with old friends and teachers on an evening of fun, great food and friendship! This year’s party will be extra special as we are also commemorating the department’s 60th anniversary. The party will be held at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House on Aug 1st (Friday) from 6 – 9.30 p.m. RSVP by July 25th at the following link:

Please help us spread the word, and we look forward to having you!


“Unapologetically Insane Tales” by Zed Yeo

Ben, an Alumnus of the Philosophy department, has written a book of short stories over a span of 6 years. In a recent interview, he mentions that philosophy – ontology, epistemology, existentialism, morality – inspired his stories. Ben’s book is up on indiegogo, do support him by contributing to his project (open till the 26th of September), and by sharing this with your friends! You can also read excerpts of his charming book by following the link.

The Philosophy Commencement and Alumni Gathering Party 2013

The Department of Philosophy held its combined Commencement and Alumni Gathering Party on Friday, 28 June 2013 at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House. This is the first time the department has organised a combined event, and it proved to be a huge success, with a total turnout of about 40 people: a colourful mix of graduating students, alumni, and faculty members.

It was an evening of food, philosophy, and fun, as our alumni got to meet up with old friends while graduating students got a chance to interact with their seniors and forge new bonds of friendship. The event was filled with an abundance of delicious food, as well as unique craft beers courtesy of several faculty members of the department. The air was filled with endless rounds of laughter thanks to the numerous jokes and hilarious experiences as shared by all present – including faculty members! And as if that’s not all, there were logic puzzles and insightful food for thought for those present to satisfy their thirst for a good intellectual challenge.

To commemorate this event, each attendee received a Philosophy mug specially designed by A/P John Holbo. And thanks to the Office of Alumni Relations, the graduating students also received a Linus soft toy with a badge saying, “Class of 2013.” (OAR also generously sponsored the rent for the venue.)

Apart from celebrating the beginning of a new life for the graduating students, the students and faculty also paid tribute to A/P Tan Sor Hoon for her six years of hard work as our outgoing Head of Department. In gratitude for her long service in the department, A/P Michael Pelczar presented A/P Tan with a gift on behalf of all the faculty members, and delivered a short note of gratitude for all the work that she has done.

In addition, Lai Weijie, a film producer and an alumnus of the Department, gave a short sharing of his life after graduation. He shared about how A/P John Holbo helped him move into his career in film and what he accomplished since his graduation.

Since this event proved to be a huge success, the Department will be organising a similar event again next year. At the end of the evening, A/P Loy Hui-chieh closed the event with some paradoxical words for everyone to ponder: “If you like the party, the one next year will be just like it; If you don’t like the party, the one next year will be nothing like it; and no, that wasn’t a contradiction.”

Philosophy Commencement and Alumni Gathering Party 2013

Our dearest alumni,
In celebration of the upcoming commencement ceremony for the Class of 2013, the NUS Philosophy Department will be hosting a Commencement and Alumni Gathering party on Friday, 28 June 2013, at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House from 6pm to 9pm.

We would like to extend our warmest invitation to you.

Other than a sumptuous buffet dinner and an evening of fun, it will be an excellent opportunity to catch up with old friends (and make new ones as well)!

Please RSVP by 10 June 2013 on our Google Docs form: Even if you are unable to join us, we hope that you will fill in the Google Docs form with your contact information so that we can keep in touch with you and notify you of future alumni events.

We look forward to meeting you soon!

PS: Please help us to spread the word by sharing this event with them. Thank you!