Donald Keefer joined the RISD faculty in 1988 with a PhD in
philosophy from Temple University.
His variety of courses have covered the history of philosophy,
aesthetics, theories of semiotics, the nature of wisdom, and philosophical
questions regarding death, dying and the dead. On a lighter note, he teaches a Wintersession course that uses
episodes of the X-files and Star Trek as vehicles to introduce
students to the problems of philosophy. He has written on topics ranging over the aesthetics of music,
technology and culture, the critique of postmodern theory, semiotics of design,
Frederick Douglass, and most recently, the philosophy of death.
Keefe is currently writing a book examining the philosophical
dimensions of loss and mourning. His paper, “Speaking Well of the Dead: On the aesthetics of eulogies,” forthcoming in Sophia, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysical Theology
and Ethics, emerged from one of the key issues in a chapter on the meanings
of how we, the loved ones and community in their ways, mourn the loss of those
important to us.
Keefer has served in a number of other positions, such as
department head of History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences, acting dean of the
Division of Liberal Arts, and coordinator of Academic Advising. He is also an accomplished classical
Academic research/ areas of interest
Philosophy of Death
Ethics and the Contradictions of Corporate Personhood
The Confluence of Evolutionary Psychology and Philosophy
Linguistics and Theories of the Sign