Canisius College, Buffalo, New York

John Zeis, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
phone: 716-888-2588
Email :

You may also want to visit the Canisius College Philosophy Department homepage where there is a lot of neat stuff.  You may be wondering what the guitar is doing here---you'll find out below. 

By the way, I'm pretty sure this guy in the picture did not play a guitar, and certainly did not play a guitar like the one pictured. He did, however, write some music, even though that is not his greatest claim to fame.



I am a native Western New Yorker, growing up in the Pine Hill section, the center of which is the Eastern city line between Buffalo and Cheektowaga on Genesee Street. Except for time spent away for schooling, I lived the first 39 years of my life in Pine Hill, and then moved to the outer limits of Lancaster.

I live in Lancaster with my wife, our two dogs, Bethany and Sophie, our cat Norle, and two horses. My wife has a Quarterhorse named "Fancy" and I have a big, Morgan gelding named "Red".  Sophie is a puppy added to the family in January of 2006.  My two favorite hobbies are horse trail riding and playing the guitar. I play a 1969 Gibson SG electric like the one pictured above and also a Martin acoustic like the one pictured below. I have also started playing classical guitar in the last few years. I like to play all kinds of music, but especially blues, rock and roll, and classical.

Here's a picture of Red, one of Bethany, one of Sophie, and one of Norle.  Here's one of Fancy, led by Noel, with grandson Braeden riding her.

Trail riding is a great way to enjoy the countryside and not only is it challenging fun, but it's a good way to see Western New York wildlife. We regularly see great blue herons and red-tailed hawks, turkey and deer; we also see the occasional fox and once even came upon a pack of coyotes.

It's most fun to go riding and play music together with others. My favorite horse riding partners are my wife, who introduced me to riding, my sons, and our nieces, Mary and Noel. My favorite musical pals are my sons Ben, Mike, Tom and JP, and my Mom and Dad. 

Western New York is a great place to live in. It has nice parks and beaches on the Great Lakes of Erie and Ontario and in the nearby woodlands; it is merely a bridge away from Canada; the city of Buffalo is big enough to be a real city and yet small enough to navigate around easily. Contrary to reputation, the weather is actually one of its positive features. You get four real seasons---of course the winters are legendary---and summer here is near perfect.

Here is a pic of the beautiful gorge in Letchworth State Park and one of Lake Erie from our cottage in Westfield, NY.


If you are interested in my professional record, you may go to my curriculum vitae. If you are interested in a copy of any of my older papers, please e-mail me and I will send you a reprint. Here are my most recently published papers.

            IJPR 2005

            ACPA Proceedings 2004

            IPQ 2003



Here you will get a little story---the story of my philosophical journey, which will focus on my philosophical heroes. 

My philosophical sojourn began accidentally. I entered college with the intention of becoming an electrical engineer. One of the annoying features of college from my point of view was that I was required to take all of these other courses that had nothing to do with engineering: english, theology, history, philosophy. So I ended up taking an ethics course to satisfy a philosophy requirement, and that was the end of engineering.

Above right is Wittgenstein's duck-rabbit.

At the left, you see Socrates, the paradigmatic philosophical hero. Socrates was an actual historical figure, but most of the information about Socrates comes from the dialogues written by Plato which featured Socrates as the lead character. Socrates is the paradigmatic philosophical hero because not only does he embody philosophical wisdom, but he suffers persecution and execution as a result of his integrity and commitment to his philosophical mission.

At the right is Plato and Aristotle. Plato was not only the disciple of Socrates, but was also the teacher of Aristotle. Aristotle became the most influential philosopher in history, so much so that the medievals called him "The Philosopher." Aristotle's influence on Western thought extended well beyond philosophy. He was the founder of logic, biology, physics, rhetoric, politics; and his work in psychology, ethics, and metaphysics, taking off from the works of his teacher Plato, have never been surpassed.

The person of the image at the beginning of my homepage is St Thomas Aquinas. He is the paradigmatic Catholic philosopher. He tried to synthesize what he took to be the philosophical truth (which he basically took to mean the philosophy of Aristotle) with the truths of faith. As a philosopher of religion, I take that still to be the most important and interesting challenge that we face. St Thomas was also a very interesting character. He had what seems to be supernatural energy (the title "Angelic Doctor" has a point), and a greatness of spirit in taking all of what was best in human knowledge and working it into his philosophical theories. 

There are some fine links, some of which can be accessed through the Philosophy Department homepage.   Here are a few of my favorites.

American Catholic Philosophical Association                        

Society of Christian Philosophers

Philosophy on the Internet

Where's Eric?

B.B. King

Canisius College Equestrian Club

Visit Knox Farm State Park and other horse trails in NY State Parks.  Check "Bridle Path" on the State Park menu.  Happy Trails!

Canisius College Home Page