April 12, 2022 — University of Wisconsin-River Falls philosophy Professor Imtiaz Moosa loved to teach, was dedicated to his students and had a zest for life.
Moosa, Ph.D., taught at the university from 1989 until he died in December 2020.
To honor his legacy at UWRF, the Dr. Imtiaz Moosa Philosophy and Ethics Speaker Series was established in 2021 with generous gifts from the Moosa family and many campus and community members. The goal of the speaker series is to feature leading experts and thought leaders on a variety of pressing philosophical, social justice and contemporary ethical issues.
“Dr. Moosa demonstrated a vibrant spirit, a love of teaching, a steadfast dedication to our students and a true zest for life. We believe this philosophy and ethics speaker series will be a meaningful and lasting tribute to a memorable educator and remarkable person,” noted Dean Yohnk, College of Arts and Sciences dean.
Yohnk said he would regularly hear from students how Moosa impacted their lives.
“I have had many students and alumni tell me they had a great opportunity learning about philosophy and ethics with him,” Yohnk said. “They explain that they were impacted by his passion, intelligence and enthusiasm. To the end, Dr. Moosa remained dedicated to his students.”
The speaker series seemed like a good fit to honor Moosa, Yohnk said.
“The series allows people to come together and talk about important issues in philosophy and ethics in today’s world,” Yohnk said.
There will be a dedication ceremony at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, April 25, of a plaque honoring Moosa at the Kinnickinnic River Theater, 320 University Center. The plaque will be hung outside Moosa’s favorite classroom in the Kleinpell Fine Arts building.
The inaugural event of the speaker series is a discussion by Gordon Marino, Ph. D., professor emeritus of philosophy and curator of The Hong Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf College. He will speak at the theater at 4 p.m. At 5 p.m., a reception will be held in the Falls Room, 4 University Center, with Moosa’s family and friends.
“I am both honored and humbled to be the first speaker in the series,” Marino said. His lecture is titled “Six or Seven Lessons I have Drawn from My Long Walk with Soren Kierkegaard.”
Marino has spent decades studying the Danish poet, theologian and philosopher Kierkegaard, 1813-1855.
“In my talk, I will discuss Kierkegaard’s positive views of anxiety, the distinction he draws between despair and depression, the relation between moods and what Kierkegaard terms ‘earnestness.’ Along the way, I will try to slip in a Kierkegaardian critique of the current tendency to “medicalize experience” that is, treat every emotional perturbation as though it were an illness,” Marino said.
“He had a distinction between wisdom and knowledge,” Marino said. “Wisdom is deeper than the abstract understanding.”
Marino earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and B.A. from Columbia University. His areas of specialization include History of Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, and Kierkegaard. He teaches philosophy and related courses as a professor at St. Olaf College and holds a position as the curator of the Kierkegaard Library.
In 2018, Marino published his most recent book, “The Existentialist’s Survival Guide.” He has authored and co-authored numerous works, including “Kierkegaard in the Present Age.” His articles have appeared in internationally acclaimed news sources and periodicals including Atlantic Monthly, New York Times Magazine, Wall Street Journal and the American Poetry Review. He is also a veteran boxing trainer and an award-winning boxing writer.
Having a speaker series is important to share wisdom, especially in a time when the humanities are being cut at many educational institutions,” Marino said. “I am sure the much-beloved Professor Moosa would agree that we need to show the ways in which the study of the humanities helps us become human.”
Moosa, who died in December 2020, was born in Africa and moved to Canada at age 16. He had a degenerative eye disease, which caused him to lose his eyesight in 2006.
In an interview for a university series titled Shaping Minds, Moosa talked about what he enjoyed about teaching:
“The highlight of my classes is when we are opening our souls, when we are talking about life in its rawness. When we are now philosophizing in a passionate way. It’s almost a Zen-like experience,” Moosa said. “When students really start talking and revealing and asking and probing and questioning and they take possession of the material and I become only accessory to the discussion. I’m not a professor anymore, I’m just part of the group. Those are the high points in the classroom.”
Neil Kraus, chair of the UWRF History and Philosophy Department, said rational, informed debate on important topics is needed now more than ever.
“Our hope is that we can use the Dr. Imtiaz Moosa Philosophy and Ethics Speaker Series to address many of the most important issues we face, including the precarious state of democracy itself,” Kraus added.
UWRF Professor of Economics John Walker said he enjoyed talking to Moosa about ideas.
“He was always open to what my perspective was, and I reciprocated that,” Walker said. “It made for some really interesting conversations in which I felt I learned a lot. Imtiaz was a very kind person. He was interested in people no matter what their station in life was. He was also a very resilient person. The way he kept going after he lost his sight was really inspiring. A very appreciative person as well. Imtiaz would be all in for the speaker series. He loved ideas and learning.”
More than $30,000 has been raised to help provide financial resources for the annual contemporary philosophy and ethics speaker series.
To donate to the Moosa speaker series, go to https://www.uwrf.edu/Give/MoosaMemorial.cfm.