Curriculum Vitae - John Adrian Black

Last Update: May 2023

Table of Contents

Contact Information
Primary Areas of Interest
Employment History - Academic
Educational History
Papers Presented
Recent Scholarly Activity
Workshops and Other Presentations
Professional Associations
Other Associations

Contact Information

Telephone: +1 (250) 754-1381   

Primary Areas of Interest

Critical Analysis of Western Culture, History of Thought, Wittgenstein, Critical Thinking, Applied Ethics, Philosophy of Mind.

Employment History - Academic

Post-Retirement: Vancouver Island University
    Professor Emeritus (since June 2019)
    Director, Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre (2017-23)
    Associated Scholar, Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre (2023-Present)
    Honorary Research Associate, Liberal Studies Department (2017-20)
    Group Leader (volunteer) for Adventures in Mind, continuing educational travel programme
    ElderCollege, Board Member and Teacher (volunteer):
        Introduction to Travel in Europe
        Cultural Travel in Europe
        Lunigiana: The Other Tuscany   
        Themes in Medieval and Renaissance Art
        The Fab Four of Florence: Fine Arts and Friendship in the Fifteenth-Century

Post-Retirement: Comox Valley Elder College
     Coordinator of the Instructional Technology Support Group and Teacher (volunteer):  
        Themes in Medieval and Renaissance Art
        The Fab Four of Florence: Fine Arts and Friendship in the Fifteenth-Century

2012-17: Vancouver Island University
   Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences

2011-12: Vancouver Island University
    Interim Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences

1992-2011: Vancouver Island University (formerly Malaspina University College):
    Professor in Liberal Studies & Philosophy.

Courses taught:

LBST 111: Ways of Knowing I
LBST 112: Ways of Knowing II
LBST 290: Special Topics in Liberal Studies (Abroad) I
LBST 291: Special Topics in Liberal Studies (Abroad) II
LBST 292: Special Topics in Liberal Studies (Abroad) III
LBST 301: Issues in Western Culture I
LBST 302: Issues in Western Culture II
LBST 310: Modern Culture's Ancient Sources
LBST 311: Ancient Times, Ancient Ways
LBST 320: Mediaeval and Renaissance Thought: Imagination, Reason, Faith
LBST 321: The Emergence of European Culture
LBST 322: Special Topics in Western Culture: The Italian Renaissance I
LBST 323: Special Topics in Western Culture: The Italian Renaissance II
LBST 390: Advanced Special Topics in Liberal Studies (Abroad) I
LBST 400: Senior Project in Liberal Studies
LBST 401: Issues in Western Culture III
LBST 402: Issues in Western Culture IV
LBST 410: The Enlightenment and its Aftermath
LBST 411: Age of Reason, Age of Empire
LBST 412: Special Topics in Western Culture: Victorian England
LBST 420: The Modern Experience and Beyond
LBST 421: Modernity and Postmodernity
LBST 422: Special Topics in Western Culture: Bloomsbury
LBST 490: Directed Study in Liberal Studies I
LBST 491: Directed Study in Liberal Studies II
PHIL 111: Introduction to Philosophy: Theory of Knowledge
PHIL 201: History of Modern Philosophy II
PHIL 240: Ancient Philosophy
PHIL 251: Formal Logic
PHIL 331: Issues in Biomedical Ethics
PHIL 361: Philosophy of Mind
PHIL 362: Minds, Machines and Metaphors
PHIL 448: Topics in Contemporary Thought I
SSID 300: Dean's Seminar in the Social Sciences

The Liberal Studies courses form part of Vancouver Island University's BA in Liberal Studies, an integrated programme of liberal education centred around a modified "Great Books" approach.

Administrative and governance rôles:

Senate: Member ex officio 2011-17; Faculty Representative for Social Sciences 2009-11.
Planning and Priorities Committee: Member 2009-17.
Senate Working Group on Student Learning, Engagement, Retention and Success: Member 2011-14.
Senate Working Group on Graduate Studies: Member 2012-14.
Senate Working Group on Faculty Bylaws: Member 2013-14.
Research, Scholarly Activity and Curriculum Development Committee: Chair 2011-17.
International Education Advisory Committee: Member, 2011-17; 2009-10.
Working Group on Education Abroad: Co-Chair, 2013-17.
Liberal Studies Abroad: Co-ordinator 1996-2017 (administered overall programme and taught annually in study abroad offerings in Europe).
Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre: Founder; Director 2002-2023; Assistant Director 1998-2002.
Graduate Studies Advisory Committee, 2015-17.
VIU Graduate Scholarship Selection Committee, 2016-17.
Grant in Lieu of Salary Review Panel: Member, 2011-12.
Liberal Studies Department: Chair 2004-9; Co-Chair 1992-2000, 2009-10.
Joint Planning Committee: Member, 2004-9.
Transitional Senate: Co-Chair and Faculty Representative for Social Sciences 2008.
Transition Task Force: Member, 2008-9.
University Transition Committee - Internal Issues: Member, 2007-8.
University Transition Committee - Academic Issues and Governance: Member, 2007-8.
Educational Council: Chair 2006-8; Vice-Chair 2005-6; Member for Faculty of Social Sciences 2004-8, 1998-9.
Board of Governors: Member ex officio 2006-8.
Planning and Resources Committee: Member ex officio 2006-8; Vice-Chair 2005-6.
Curriculum Committee: Member ex officio 2006-8.
Ethics and Development Committee: Member ex officio 2006-8.
Policies, By-Laws and Procedures Committee: Chair, 2006-8.
Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Education Council: Chair, 2006-8.
Standards and Admissions Committee: Member ex officio 2006-8; Member 1992-3.
Vice-President Academic Selection Committee: Member, 2006-7.
Nominations Committee: Chair, 2005-6.
Professional Development Leave Committee: Member 1996-7.

1994-95: Antioch University:
    Adjunct Professor (M.Ed Programme Committee Member).

1990-92: Malaspina College, Department of Philosophy:
    Temporary Instructor in Philosophy.
    Liberal Studies Advisor/Recruiter.
    Academic Advisor.
    College Liaison Co-ordinator.

Courses taught:

PHIL 100: Rhetoric and Reasoning
PHIL 112: Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics
PHIL 200: History of Modern Philosophy I: Descartes to Kant
PHIL 201: History of Modern Philosophy II: Hegel to Wittgenstein
PHIL 251: Formal Logic
PHIL 252: Understanding Scientific Reasoning

During these two years, my duties in advising, college liaison and recruiting were performed on time-release from a full teaching load. Altogether I taught eight semester course sections.

1981, 1984-90: Douglas College, Department of Arts & Humanities:
    Contract Instructor in Philosophy & Humanities.

Courses taught:

Phi 101: Effective Thinking
Phi 102: Confronting Moral Issues
Phi 152: Philosophical Problems II: Metaphysics & Epistemology
Hum 101: Frontiers of Thought: Co-ordinator of a multidisciplinary course, team-taught.
                Theme: to Spring 1989: Technology and Humanity;
                         after Spring 1989: Communication.

Altogether I taught twenty-seven semester course sections at Douglas.

1988-89: Instructional Development Advisory Committee, BC Council of College Principals:
    Consultant on Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum.

1986: Alpha College, Vancouver:
    Instructor in Philosophy.

Course taught: Philosophy 110: Critical Thinking

1986: Vancouver School Board:
    Instructor in Critical Thinking.

Course taught: Weekend workshop in Critical Thinking.

1973-86: Teaching Assistant Experience:

In addition to the above, I was also employed as a teaching assistant for twelve semesters at Simon Fraser University and for five years at the University of British Columbia during the period 1973-86. The total experience amounts to twenty-six semester-courses, ranging over Ethics, Introduction to Philosophy, History of Philosophy, Critical Thinking, Metaphysics and Epistemology, Logic and Biomedical Ethics.

Educational History


1987, 1984, 1975-82: University of British Columbia Doctoral Programme in Philosophy:
    Awarded Ph.D. 1987.
    Thesis title: "Incorrigibility and Elimination: a Mentalist Response."
    Courses in: Metaphysics and Epistemology, Philosophy of Science, Philosophical Problems
    (Locke and Leibniz), Logic, Moral Philosophy, Aristotle (Metaphysics and Ethics).

1973-75: Simon Fraser University Master's Programme in Philosophy:
    Awarded M.A. 1976.
    Thesis title: "Wittgenstein and Empiricism about Other Minds."
    Courses in: Ethics, Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology, Logic.

1969-72: King's College, University of Cambridge Philosophy Tripos (incl. History of Modern Philosophy & Psychology options):
    Awarded B.A.(Hons) 1972, Converted to M.A. 1975.


2013:    University of Manitoba Centre for Higher Education Research and Development
    Senior University Administrator Course

1998:    Malaspina University College:
    SWFA 001: Standard First Aid
    LLIT 001: Italian - Level 1

1996:    Malaspina University College:
    STFF 015: Integrating Microsoft Office Applications

1995:     Malaspina University College:
    STAF 064: Digitizing Slides
    STAF 079: Educational Technology
    STAF 091: Video for Windows

1994:    Malaspina University College:
    STAF 087: Networks and Lanschool
    STAF 079: Educational Technology

1993:    Malaspina College:
    STAF 082: Multi-Media: Uses in Instruction
    STAF 083: Infoserv & Gopher
    STAF 084: Scanning Documents
    STAF 090: Scanning Pictures

1990:    Malaspina College:
    STAF 004: Electronic Mail
    STAF 085: Introduction to the Mac Lab

1984:    Capilano College:
    Labour Studies Programme Course on B.C. Labour Code:
    Awarded Certificate of Completion

1983-84: Vancouver Community College:
    Conversational Mandarin;
    E.S.L. Teaching Techniques,
    Awarded Certificate of Completion.

1962-69: St. Anselm's College, Birkenhead, U.K.:
    Entrance examination to University of Cambridge, 1969.
    General Certificate of Education:
    "S" level in Physics, Chemistry, 1968
    "A" level in Physics, Chemistry, Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, General Studies, 1968
    "O" level in German, 1967
    "O" level in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, English Language, English Literature, Latin, French, Russian, History, 1966.

Awards & Grants

2011: Assisted Research Leave, Vancouver Island University
2011, 2005-8: SSHRC Capacity-Building Grant (Aid to Small Universities)
2009: Scholarly Activity Release, Vancouver Island University
2003: Alessandro Malaspina Medal, Centro di Studi Malaspiniani, Mulazzo, Italy
2001: International Education Medal, Malaspina University College
1999: Assisted Research Leave, Malaspina University College
1998: Scholarly Activity Release, Malaspina University College
1981: UBC Summer Research Fellowship
1979-80: UBC University Graduate Fellowship
1978-79: UBC University Graduate Fellowship
1977-78: UBC University Graduate Fellowship
1976-77: UBC University Graduate Fellowship
1974-75: BC Government Summer Research Grant



States of Mind: Countering Eliminative Materialism, Beau Bassin, Lambert Academic Publishing, 2018.

A Translation of Alexandro Malaspina's
Meditación sobre lo Bello en la Naturaleza, with Oscar Clemotte-Silvero, Lewiston, Edwin Mellen Press, 2007.

A Translation of Arthur Ahlvers: Zahl und Klang bei Platon/Number and Sound in Plato, Lewiston, Edwin Mellen Press, 2002.

The Four Elements in Plato's Timaeus, Lewiston, Edwin Mellen Press, 2000.


Alexandro Malaspina: Enlightenment Thinker?, Proceedings of the Inaugural Symposium of the Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre, Malaspina University College, 2000 (Editor).

Frozen Embryos, Ice-Age Ethics & Cold Comfort: a case study in the ethics of reproductive technologies, Nanaimo, Institute of Practical Philosophy, 1996.

Ministry Report

Meeting New Challenges Across the Curriculum, co-authored with Ruth d'Hollander, Rosemary Coupe and Dennis Wright, Victoria, Ministry of Advanced Education and Job Training of the Province of British Columbia, 1989.

Online Publications

2018: Translation from Latin of Alexandro Malaspina's Theses ex Physica Generali.

2011: Translation from Spanish of Alexandro Malaspina's Axiomas Políticos sobre la América.

Dario Manfredi: Alessandro Malaspina: A Biography, trans. Teresa J. Kirschner and Donald S. Kirschner, 2003 (Co-editor).

2000-present: Translation of primary sources in French, Spanish and Italian, for the Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre.

Articles - Philosophy

"La Meditación sobre lo Bello en la Naturaleza de Alexandro Malaspina," Historias Malaspinianas, eds. Andrés Galera & Víctor Peralta, in the series Estudios Americanos: Perspectivas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, 2016.

"The Chemistry of the Timaeus," a translation from the French of E.M. Bruins: "La Chimie du Timée," Revue de Metaphysique et de Morale, 56 (1951).  (Published as an Appendix in The Four Elements in Plato's Timaeus, above).

"Quantifying Support," in Informal Logic, Vol. XIII, No.1, 1991.

Articles - Critical Thinking

"Whatever Happened to Baby Logic?" in Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Argumentation, Amsterdam, Stichting Internationaal Centrum voor de Studie van Argumentatie en Taalbeheersing, 1991.

"Primary and Secondary Indicators," in ACTIR Newsletter, Vol. 3, #1, October 1990.

"What is Critical Thinking?" in ACTIR Newsletter, Vol. 2, #1,October 1989.

Articles - Pedagogy

"How to Build a Learning Community: Activate, Abdicate, Articulate," in Scott Lee & Allen Speight (eds.): Tradition and Innovation, Lanham MD and Oxford, University Press of America, 1999; republished online in Teaching Great Books, 2, Winter 2000.

"Education versus Training?", Discourse 2:2, Spring 1997.

"Teaching Hypothetical/Deductive Reasoning in Radiologic Technology: Explanation Games and Other Classroom Methods," with Steven B. Dowd, Canadian Journal of Medical Radiation Technology, Vol. 23, No. 4, October 1992.

"Explanation Games: If He'd Seen the Sawdust...," in Innovation Abstracts, Vol. XII, No. 21, September, 1990. Reprinted in LSABC Digest, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1991.


Review of Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra: Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America, 1792 (trans. Freeman Tovell), The Northern Mariner XXII: 4, October 2012.

Review of Steven W. Horst: Symbols, Computation and Intentionality: A Critique of the Computational Theory of Mind, Review of Metaphysics 52:4, June 1999.

Review of Brian Cantwell Smith: On the Origin of Objects, Review of Metaphysics 51:3, March 1998.

Review of Mary Midgley: Beast and Man, Canadian Philosophical Reviews, Vol. XV, no. 5, October 1995.


Incorrigibility and Elimination: A Mentalist Response, Ph.D. Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1987.

Wittgenstein and Empiricism about Other Minds, M.A. Thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1976.

Papers Presented

2011: "Malaspina's Meditation on Beauty in Nature", article submitted to the Malaspina 2010 Project, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, Madrid, and presented in its online webinar, September 2012.

1997: Annual Meeting of the Association for Core Texts and Courses, Philadelphia, April 1997: "How to Build a Learning Community"

1996: Liberal Studies Spring Conference, Malaspina University College: "Timaean Elements and Geometric Means"

1990: Second International Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (University of Amsterdam): "Whatever Happened to Baby Logic?"

1978: Cosmos (U.B.C.): "Ways of Being"

1977: Cosmos (U.B.C.): "Objectivity in Ethics"

1976: Cosmos (U.B.C.): "Paradoxes"

1975: S.F.U. Philosophy Students Union Colloquium: "Paradoxes"

1974: S.F.U. Philosophy Department Colloquium: "Identity"

Workshops and Other Presentations

June 2009: Nanaimo Museum: "Murals, Myths and Mariners"

May 2000: Kaleidoscope 2000, Vancouver, BC: "From Cubes to Cubism: The Use of Models in Science and Art" (with Lisa MacLean).

November 1993: Northwest Conference on Philosophy, Kwantlen College:
Response to Alan Brinton's "Bishop Butler and the Justification of Anger".

November 1991: Learning Specialists Association of British Columbia, Fall Workshop, Capilano College:
Keynote Address: "Critical versus Creative Thinking";
Panel Participant: "Critical Thinking - The Advising and Counselling Connections".

April 1990: Douglas College: "Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum"

June 1989: Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Alberta: "Explanation Games"

May 1989: Douglas College: "Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum - Lesson Planning"

May 1989: Lakeside Correctional Institute:"Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum - Adult Basic Education"

April 1989: B.C. Institute of Technology: "Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum - Vocational & Technical Education"

April 1989: Douglas College:"Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum"

Professional Associations

Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre: Associated Research Scholar 2023-Present; Director 2002-2023; Member since 1998.

The Hakluyt Society: Member 2000-2017.

Canadian Philosophical Association: Member 1981-2013.

International Society for the Study of Argumentation: Member since 1989.

Institute of Practical Philosophy: Research Associate 1995-2000.

Vancouver Island Society for Practical Philosophy: Member 1995-2000.

B.C. Association for Critical Thinking Instruction and Research: Founding member; member of Board 1987-94; Vice-President 1989-94.

Vancouver Island University Faculty Association (Local 8 of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators): Member 1990-2011, member of the Contract Negotiations Committee 1993-6 and of the Bargaining Team 1994-6; Association representative on College Employment Equity Planning Committee 1992-95; Vice-President 1995-6 and 1997-9; President 2000-2; Past-President 2002-3; Secretary 2009-10; Secretary-Treasurer 2010-11.

Douglas College Faculty Association (Local 4 of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators): Member 1981 & 1984-90; member of contract faculty committee 1986-87; Arts and Humanities Department representative on Working Conditions Committee 1988-90; member of Negotiating Committee 1989-90; Association spokesperson on labour/management Taskforce on Workload 1990.

Other Associations

Arrowsmith Cricket Club: Member and player 2006-2019. Member of Board of Directors 2009-2019.

Cowichan Cricket Club: Member and XL player since 1996; Member of Board of Directors 2006-Present.

Nanaimo Cricket Club: Member and player 1991-2005; Treasurer 2004-5; Second XI Vice-Captain 2004; Second XI Captain 2002; Member of Board of Directors 1992-98; First XI Captain 1998; First XI Vice-Captain 1992-7; Vice-President 1994-6.

Mid-Island Cricket League: Founding Member, 1993; Member of Board of Directors 2003-5.

Sangeet Mala Cultural Society: Founder Member and Secretary, 2007-13.

Malaspina Choir: Member 2000-9; Baritone.

Radio Malaspina Society (CHLY): Member since 1995; Member of Board of Directors 2001-3; Vice-President, 2003.

Nanaimo Educational and Community Media Society: Founder and President 1991-7.

Radio Malaspina Project: Co-ordinator 1991-4.

Community Radio Education Society: Member since 1984.

Vancouver Co-operative Radio (CFRO): Volunteer programmer 1984-91; reporter, operator, host & producer for several public affairs shows, including The Rational, Union Made and Redeye; member of the Redeye Programming Collective 1985-91; member of Volunteer Committee 1987-8; instructor in both Basic Skills and Advanced Skills.

MO Magazine: Classical Music Critic, 2003-4.

Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN): Associate member since 1987.

New Democratic Party of British Columbia: Member 1986-93, 1996-8.