Lee Cole
Philosophy & Religion

Lee M. Cole

Chairman and Associate Professor of Philosophy
We must always say what we see. Above all, and this is more difficult, we must always see what we see.
— Charles Péguy

Faculty Information

Additional Faculty Information for Lee M. Cole


B.S. in Philosophy and Mathematics, Hillsdale College

M.A. in Philosophy, Villanova University

Ph.D. in Philosophy, Villanova University


American Catholic Philosophical Association

Society for German Idealism and Romanticism

Society of Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

Phi Sigma Tau Philosophy Honorary (Hillsdale Chapter Faculty Advisor)

Courses Taught

Introduction to the Western Philosophical Tradition

Medieval Philosophy

Aquinas on God

Aquinas on Human Nature

Classical Metaphysics

Philosophy of Religion

Plato’s Republic

Robert Spaemann on the Human Person

Interviews & Podcasts

The Life and Thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. Catholic Phoenix, July 2015.

The Hillsdale Dialogues: Thomas Aquinas. The Hugh Hewitt Show, February – March 2014.


What is a ‘Person’? Reflections Old and New. World Youth Alliance Conference, February 2018.

Between Being and Nothingness: Prime Matter Revisited. Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies Conference, Villanova, Pennsylvania, October 2016.

So Much Straw: Thomas Aquinas and the End of Metaphysics. Sponsored by the Hillsdale College Graduate School of Statesmanship, January 2014.

Against the Knowledge of Singulars: St. Thomas’ Position Reconsidered. PMR Conference, October 2010.

From the Human to the Divine: Thomas’ Argument for Divine Knowledge of Singulars in ST I.14.11. PMR Conference, October 2007.

Academic Specializations

Thomas Aquinas

Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

Continental Philosophy and Phenomenology

History of Epistemology and Metaphysics

Natural Theology and Philosophy of Religion

Fellowships and Awards

Intercollegiate Studies Institute Western Civilization Fellowship (2008)

Fellow in Residence, Jacques Maritain Center, University of Notre Dame (2010–11)


Born in southern Michigan, and an alumnus of Hillsdale College, I was blessed to return to my alma mater in 2011. My approach to teaching at Hillsdale is very much informed by my experience as an undergraduate at the College.

When a student at Hillsdale, I found myself both coming to terms with some of the most fundamental questions that bear upon what it means to be human and coming to appreciate our tradition’s rich and inexhaustible resources for addressing these concerns. On account of the excellence of my own professors, I also found myself observing how such ideas could be effectively communicated in the present. Thus, I came to discern and appreciate a host of pedagogical virtues, virtues that I attempt to model in my own teaching: a passion for and devotion to one’s subject matter, respect for one’s intellectual forebears, sensitivity and faithfulness to great texts, a commitment to an interdisciplinary approach to the truth, attention to eloquence and order, awareness of the proper conditions for deep learning, and a love for one’s pupils. In the end, in my capacity as teacher, I aim to assist my students in their own intellectual and moral formation.

To think philosophically in the Western tradition is to understand one’s enterprise as oriented toward wisdom. Wisdom is a habit of the intellect by which one discerns the order proper to all things, in light of what is most defining and unconditioned, and so is equipped to judge well. In light of this definition, philosophy aspires to a genuinely comprehensive grasp of our place within the order of existence. Even if such an ideal is never wholly realized, the aspiration suggests that philosophical inquiry, which follows upon the exigencies of reason itself, seeks a oneness with reality. Philosophical inquiry seeks to express reality in its full dimensionality. It seeks to inhabit the world in a way that articulates its meaning in the fullest possible way in light of what is properly explanatory. And, on the condition of rightly understanding and loving what is true and good, it aims at human flourishing and happiness.