• Holly Moore, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Identity Studies

    "There is nothing more rewarding than working closely with a student and seeing their growth year by year."

Holly Moore

The Value of Philosophy

Moore studied philosophy as an undergraduate, but not for its practical value. “Philosophy does not build highways, write code, or sell mortgages,” she says. Moore agrees with Socrates, who said that philosophy is useless. But that, she believes, is what makes it valuable. “Because it lets you question the purpose of anything you make or do, philosophy makes it possible for the maker to understand and value her humanity even more than her products,” Moore says. “It allows us to answer big questions thoughtfully and with deep satisfaction, and that makes anything we do more worthwhile.”

Moore taught full time at DePaul University as a graduate teaching fellow while finishing her dissertation, Plato's Analogical Thought. She then served as a sabbatical replacement at Colby College as she defended her dissertation and received her Ph.D. in philosophy. Moore began teaching at Luther in 2010 and received tenure in 2016.

An Interdisciplinary Educator

Though she is a member of the philosophy faculty, Moore also teaches a number of interdisciplinary courses. “My primary research area is ancient philosophy, which I am fortunate enough to teach every fall,” she says. “In addition, I have a strong background in contemporary European philosophy and philosophy of gender.” These topics shape many of her courses in the Philosophy Department, Women & Gender Studies Department, Paideia, and the Intersections program.

Making Connections with Students

Like many professors at Luther, Moore’s favorite part of teaching is spending time with students one-on-one. “There is nothing more rewarding than working closely with a student and seeing their growth year by year.” She finds it difficult to say goodbye to seniors at the end of each year, but also rewarding to see the results of her work making a real difference in others’ lives.

A recent highlight of her teaching was the Paideia capstone course she led with Professor Maryna Bazylevych, which focused on the legacy of Cold War ideologies. Their group traveled to numerous sites within Berlin, Prague, and Kiev. “The greatest impact of the trip was that students not only had the chance to work closely with the two of us, but also to make personal connections with scholars, public figures, and eye-witnesses of the history we were studying."

Embracing All Seasons

When Moore isn’t teaching exciting courses abroad during the summer, she enjoys fishing, canoeing, and especially biking. Iowa winters, however, are not as conducive to those hobbies. “Every time the weather turns cold, I'm sad to put my bike up for the winter,” she says. But with some coaching from her Luther colleagues, she learned to cross-country ski! “I still look forward to summer, but I've caught myself more than a few times in July looking forward to the snow,” she says.

I'm currently working on a piece for an edited volume titled, Argumentation in Classical Antiquity. It concerns Plato's use of purification as a metaphor for describing philosophical inquiry. I am also working on an essay that compares the theory of an early Greek scientist to that of a contemporary Latina feminist.

Holly Moore

Professional Associations

  • American Association of University Professors
  • American Association of University Women
  • American Philosophical Association
  • Ancient Philosophy Society
  • Iowa Philosophical Society
  • Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy