Bio

Licence ès lettres; Maîtrise; Doctorat: Université de Paris-Sorbonne
B.A. Fordham University

Areas of Expertise:

European Philosophy: Spinoza; Nietzsche; Heidegger; Contemporary French Thought.
I am also interested in the philosophy of Plotinus; Emerson; Vedanta; Meister Eckhart; and Taoism.

Courses I Teach:

  • Living Deliberately
  • Experiences of Existence
  • Author/Text: Spinoza’s Ethics
  • Author/Text: Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra
  • Author/Text: Heidegger’s Being and Time
  • Topics: Wisdoms of the East
  • Topics: Identity and Difference
  • Independent Study

My Saint Michael’s

In each class I teach, I stress that understanding theory is the means to a practical end, namely, learning to be more attentive to everyday experience.  I am interested in the transformative effect philosophical thinking has on students. Are their unquestioned beliefs being challenged?  Are their habitual ways of seeing the world breaking down?  Are they coming face to face with the unknown and experiencing the awe it inspires?

Students often say that my courses are life changing.  Perhaps that is because they are life changing for me.  Education at its best is a transformative experience.  If I am an effective teacher it is because I am an engaged student.  I teach by learning.  Teaching philosophy requires that I raise and think through a question and read a text, even when the question and text are familiar to me, as if for the first time.  I engage students by drawing them into the learning process, by reading a text together, by learning with them.

Research

Current writing project is a work of literary fiction titled Jacob’s Quest.  The novel tells the story of Jacob Robb, who suffers from the belief that nothing is worth desiring.  When a friend introduces him to Claire, an escort with a predilection for philosophy, Jacob discovers that sexual desire opens onto another desire.  Claire guides Jacob toward that other desire.

Awards & Recognition

Fulbright Scholar: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Honors: la Sorbonne, Thèse de Doctorat, La Dialectique de Désir, Mention Très Bien (highest honors); Mémoire de Maîtrise, Le Clair-Obscur, Mention Bien (high honors).

Interview

Life Off Campus:

I enjoy art exhibitions, music of all kinds, literature, writing, and the company of friends. I live in Paris when the College is not in session.

Recent News

John Izzi of the Saint Michael’s philosophy faculty was asked by the award-winning French novelist, Sylvie Germain, to have a selection of his writings included among her personal archives at IMEC (L’institut mémoires de l’édition contemporaine). The national French research institute houses the archives of contemporary writers and is located in the former abbey d’Ardenne, Normandy, France. In addition to an autobiographical letter, Professor Izzi included a novel, Gift of the Moon, a collection of poems, Openings, and a previously published philosophical study, “Proximity in Distance: Lévinas and Plotinus,” which provides a framework for the novel and poems. The novel, Gift of the Moon, tells the story of the French narrator, Alex de Saint-Val, who is plagued by the darkness he finds lying at the heart of things. When Alex’s efforts to control his fate end in defeat, he is faced with a choice: to live half-dead or to embrace the enigma of himself and the world. The collection of poems, Openings, begins with a prose poem that clears a space for the poems that follow. The philosophical study, “Proximity in Distance: Lévinas and Plotinus,” was originally published in the International Philosophical Quarterly and reprinted in Lévinas and the Ancients, a collection of studies on the relationship between Lévinas and thinkers from the ancient tradition. The study asks how the same has a relation with the other that preserves the identity of the same and the alterity of the other.
(posted February 2020)