Social Sciences, Human Services and Criminal Justice
Phone: +1 (212) 220-8000;ext=5207
After nearly becoming a temperate ecosystems ecologist, Matthew Ally earned an interdisciplinary bachelors degree in the humanities, a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in philosophies and theologies of liberation, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in moral, social, and political philosophy. He teaches introductory courses in cross-cultural philosophy and ethics and human geography, and an upper-level course called Great Issues, which focuses on contemporary philosophy of mind, environmental philosophy, and/or the ethics of globalization in any given semester. Matthew lives in New York City with his wife, their identical twin daughters (on the increasingly rare occasions that they are home), a dog, a cat, a jade tree, and sometimes a bird. Among other things, he likes to walk on city streets at sunrise, run in city parks at sunset, and hike in the woods as often as possible.
Social Justice Issues, Philosophy of Mind/Consciousness Studies, Environmental Philosophy, Continental Philosophy
- B.A. New York University, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Classics,1990
- M.Div. Union Theological Seminary, Phenomenology of Religion, Liberation Philosophy & Theology,1993
- Ph.D. Temple University, Philosophy and Ethics,2001
- This course introduces students to environmental studies with a focus on policy and management of resources. The course will examine issues pertaining to sustaining our resource base (biodiversity, food, soil, water, and energy) and how humans have impacted these key elements of the natural system. The goals of the course are to introduce students to the trends in human impact and management of the natural environment and provide a background to debates on sustainability and conservation. Prerequisite: GEO 100
- The study of philosophy helps students develop analytic skills and gain an appreciation of the general philosophical problems with which human beings have grappled throughout Western civilization. Basic philosophic problems such as free will and determinism, the criteria which justify ethical evaluations, the philosophical considerations which are relevant to belief or disbelief in God, and knowledge and illusion are examined during this course.
- This course will examine major historical and contemporary perspectives in moral philosophy. We will consider questions such as, 'Are there universal moral values??, Are ethical conduct and self-interest compatible?', 'What is the source of our ethical obligations (God? Society? Or Reason?) and how can we justify them?', and 'How does globalization impact ethical theory?' The course will look at what attributes and qualities make up a successful ethical theory and will compare competing approaches to ethical decision-making. Throughout the course, the emphasis will be on real-world ethical issues that arise in contemporary life and society.
- This course provides an in-depth discussion of some of the great issues of philosophy. It applies analytical and logical tools for clarification of these issues with emphasis on recent/contemporary philosophical developments. Using a cross-cultural perspective, there is a focus on select topics such as ethical codes and moral conduct, plolitcal order, social justice, religious experiences and beliefs, science and knowledge and the nature of consciousness. Prerequisite: PHI 100 or 110
Research and Projects
ECOLOGY AND EXISTENCE: BRINGING SARTRE TO THE WATER’S EDGE (Lexington Books, July 2017)
This study explores the increasingly troubled relationship between humankind and the Earth, with the help of a simple example and a complicated interlocutor. The example is a pond, which, it turns out, is not so simple as it seems. The interlocutor is Jean-Paul Sartre, novelist, playwright, biographer, philosopher, and, despite his several disavowals, doyen of twentieth-century existentialism. Standing with the great humanist at the edge of the pond, the author examines contemporary experience in the light of several familiar conceptual pairs: nature and culture, fact and value, reality and imagination, human and nonhuman, society and ecology, Earth and world.
The theoretical challenge is to reveal the critical complementarity and experiential unity of this family of ideas. The practical task is to discern the heuristic implications of this lived unity-in-diversity in these times of social and ecological crisis. Interdisciplinary in its aspirations, the study draws upon recent developments in biology and ecology, complexity science and systems theory, ecological and Marxist economics, and environmental history.
Comprehensive in its engagement of Sartre’s oeuvre, the study builds upon his best-known existentialist writings, and also his critique of colonialism, voluminous ethical writings, early studies of the imaginary, and mature dialectical philosophy. In addition to overviews of Sartre’s distinctive inflections of phenomenology and dialectics and his unique theories of praxis and imagination, the study also articulates for the first time Sartre’s incipient philosophical ecology.
In keeping with Sartre’s lifelong commitment to freedom and liberation, the study concludes with a programmatic look at the relative merits of pragmatist, prefigurative, and revolutionary activism within the burgeoning global struggle for social and ecological justice. We learn much by thinking with Sartre at the water’s edge: surprising lessons about our changing humanity and how we have come to where we are; timely lessons about the shifting relation between us and the broader community of life to which we belong; difficult lessons about our brutal degradation of the planetary system upon which life depends; and auspicious lessons, too, about a participatory path forward as we work to preserve a habitable planet and build a livable world for all earthlings.
Sartre’s Integrative Method: Description, Dialectics, and Praxis, Sartre Studies International 16 (2): 48-74 2011
Ecologizing Sartre’s Ontology: Nature, Science, and Dialectics, Environmental Philosophy 9:2 2012
The Importance of Wondering (an article about Prof. Ally’s “Great Issues” class), Intimations of a New Socioecological Imaginary: Sartre, Taylor, and the Planetary Crisis , In: Revolutionary Hope: Essays in Honor of William L. McBride, edited by Nathan Jun, Lexington Books, 2013
Reading Catalano’s Reading Sartre, Sartre Studies International 17 (2): 81-88 2012 Sartre’s Wagers: Humanism, Solidarity, Liberation (A Commentary on Drake, Baugh, and Gines), Sartre Studies International 9 (2): 68-76 2003
Glimpses of Earth: Sustainability in the Crucible of Experience, Union Seminary Quarterly Review 63 (1-2): 164-79 2011
Normative Inertia, Historical Momentum, and Moral Invention: Dialectics of Ethos in Sartre’s Phenomenology of Praxis, Sartre Studies International 6 (1):105-115 2000
Embodied Mind, Earth Ethics, and Grassroots Globalization: A Case Study in Popular Education, Center for Global Justice 2006
Ecology and Existence: Bringing Sartre to the Water’s Edge2017, Lexington Books