Philosophical Speaker, Dr. David R. Cerbone of WVU, Draws Big Crowd at FSU

The Frostburg State University Philosophy Department hosted Dr. David Cerbone, a professor of philosophy at West Virginia University, at the Fall Philosophical Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 25. This was Cerbone’s first visit to Frostburg, and dozens of students, faculty, and community members gathered to listen to his lecture.

A large crowd of students, faculty, and community members listen as Dr. David R. Cerbone lectures. (Madie Wilson/ TBL)
A large crowd of students, faculty, and community members listen as Dr. David R. Cerbone lectures. (Madie Wilson/ TBL)

Cerbone has been teaching at WVU since 1998 and he specializes in 20th Century Continental Philosophy (especially Phenomenology) and Wittgenstein. Aside from teaching at WVU, Cerbone is the author of three books consisting of Understanding Phenomenology (2006), Heidegger: A Guide for the Perplexed (2008), and Existentialism: All That Matters (2012).

Cerbone’s discussion mostly drew from his most recent book in which he focuses on the philosophical theory of existentialism and the project of trying and failing to become “who you are.” While informative and educational, to better explain some of the philosophical theories Cerbone added jokes and used everyday experiences to relate to those in the crowd.

Dr. David R. Cerbone reads a passage from... (Madie Wilson/ TBL)
Dr. David R. Cerbone reads the parable from Hasidic Judaism ascribed to Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol. (Madie Wilson/ TBL)

Cerbone explained that existentialism is “a philosophical movement of sorts that had its epicenter sometime in the early 20th century with the word of the German philosopher [Søren Kierkegaard], but also from Jean-Paul Sartre. The origins date back much further to at least the early to mid-19th century.”

“For me, existentialism goes back even further,” states Cerbone. “It’s very near and dear to me as a philosophical school or view. It was really by reading existentialist literature…back when I was a kid that first got me interested in philosophy.”

Cerbone extends his reflection using parables from Hasidic Judaism, especially that which was ascribed to Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol, which dives into and questions the idea of becoming “who you are.”

He used the example of the life of a Labrador retriever spent chained up outside rather than “out roaming field and stream in search of downed game” to better explain the parable from Hasidic Judaism.

Time was left after Cerbone’s lecture for an open discussion in which many stayed and gave feedback. Comments and responses ranged from relating existentialism and the question and idea of becoming “who you are” to Werner Heisenberg and a physics point of view, to a pianist performing;  even the stories of Jesus were discussed.

For more events related to the philosophy department, the following are some upcoming events: Cynthia Zirlott will be hosting a Fair Foods Lunch Forum on Tuesday, Nov. 1 in the Lane Center, room 110 from noon to 1:30 p.m. This is an opportunity to learn about the fair foods partnership program, which is trying to make life better for farm workers.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Dunkle auditorium, the philosophy department is going to be screening a new documentary, Do Not Resist, about the militarization of the American police forces.

The Philosophy Club meets every other Monday at Dantes located on Main Street. Contact Dillon James ( and/or David Cook ( to learn more about the club.

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