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John Riker


John Riker has taught philosophy at Colorado College since 1968.   He chaired the department for 15 years and has been named the Judson Bemis Professor of the Humanities.  He was also the Kohut Professor at the University of Chicago (fall, 2003).  He has been named teacher of the year four times, advisor of the year three times, has received the Riley Award for distinguished service to CC and was the initial recipient of the Victor Nelson-Cisneros Award for the person most involved with aiding diversity on campus. His areas of interest in philosophy are ethics, history of philosophy, Greek philosophy, psychoanalysis, American philosophy, and metaphysics.  His research interests center on the intersection of a psychoanalytic understanding of human nature with ethics.




Why It Is Good to Be Good:  Ethics, Kohut's Self Psychology, and Modern Society (Jason Aronson, 2010)

Ethics and the Discovery of the Unconscious (SUNY Press, 1997)

Human Excellence and an Ecological Conception of the Psyche (SUNY Press, 1991)

The Art of Ethical Thinking (University Press of America, 1968)

Exploring the Life of the Soul: Philosophical Reflections on Psychoanalysis and Self Psychology (Lexington Books, 2017)


Recent Papers and Addresses:

"Self Psychology and the Problem of the Other," International Conference on the Psychology of the Self, Antalya, Turkey

"Actualizing the Self in the Age of Desire," Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, June 2010

"What Do Humans Need to Be Human? Self Psychology and the Problem of Social Justice," The International Journal of Pscyhoanalytic Self Psychology, vol. 10, #3, 2015, pp. 192-204.

"Economics, Self Psychology, and Ethics: Why Modern Economic Persons Cheat and How Self Psychology Can Provide the Basis for a Trustworthy Economic World" in The Financial Crisis: Neglected Ideas in Economics, Psychology, and Values, Oxford University Press, 2016.

"Jonathan Lear's Psychoanalytic Ontology," co-authored with student Tom Roberts, Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, fall 2016

Link to CV

Regular Classes

PH 101 Greek Philosophy

PH 116 Greek History and Philosophy: Origins of Western Culture

PH 140 Ethics

PH 201 History of Modern Philosophy

PH 260 Existential Philosophy

PH 321 Metaphysics

PH 340 Ethics and Contemporary Life

PH 360 Philosophy and Psychoanalysis


    BA: Middlebury College, High Honors in Philosophy, Valedictorian, 1965

    M.A., Vanderbilt University, 1967  

    PhD. Vanderbilt University, 1968