Sarah Pessin

Sarah Pessin


Interfaith Chair

  • Faculty

What I do

I explore paradoxes of 'hard hope', democracy, religious inclusivity, and racial justice at the intersection of ethics, equity, and authenticity.


Philosophy, Religion, civics

Professional Biography

Sarah Pessin is Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Thought. She holds an Interfaith Chair, and works in areas of phenomenology, existentialism, Neoplatonism, interfaith civics, philosophy of religion, ethics, and social justice. She has won a teaching award from the graduate student council of the DU-Iliff Joint Doctoral Program in the Study of Religion, has served as a Fellow with the American Council on Education, and is the new Director of Spiritual Life for DU's Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence. She has previously served as the Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and as the Faculty Senate President.

Learn more about her current projects at


  • Ph.D., Philosophy, The Ohio State University, 2000
  • MA, Philosophy, Columbia University, 1994
  • BA, Philosophy, Yeshiva University, Stern College, 1991

Media Sources


Sarah is currently

Areas of Research

interfaith civics
social and political philosophy
public good
comparative Greek-Islamic-Jewish-Christian philosophy and mysticism
race and racism
diversity and inclusion
religious freedom
religious inclusivity
belonging and expression

Key Projects

  • Interfaith Youth Core
  • Engaging the History of the Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society

Featured Publications

Pessin, S. (2013). Ibn Gabirol's Theology of Desire: Matter and Method in Jewish Medieval Neoplatonism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pessin, S. (2019). The Jewish Tradition. (B. Foltz, Ed.), Medieval Philosophy: A Multicultural Reader. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Pessin, S. (2014). Islamic and Jewish Neoplatonisms. In P. Remes & S. Slaveva-Griffin (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Neoplatonism (pp. 541-58). Durham: Acumen Press/ Routledge.
Pessin, S. (2021). Emanationist Powers: Plotinus, Theology of Aristotle, and Ibn Gabirol. In J. Jorati (Ed.), Powers: A History (pp. 56-81). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.


Pessin, S. (2022). Mercy Without Cheer?: Towards a Phenomenology of "Difficult Politics" & "Uncomfortable Virtues" in Levinas, MLK, and Marx. 18th Psychology for the Other Conference. Seattle: Seattle University.
Pessin, S. (2022). Heideggerian and Levinasian Traces in Wolfson's Phenomenology of Life. Association for Jewish Studies Annual Meeting. Boston: Association for Jewish Studies.
Pessin, S. (2018). Past, Pause, Paradox, Pardon [and Method] in Early Levinas. Jewish Thought Workshop. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University.
Pessin, S. (2019). Powers and Receptivities in Ibn Gabirol and Maimonides. Conference for contributors to Oxford University Press volume on powers. Columbus, OH: Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University.
Pessin, S., & Tuitt, F. (2018). Difficult Conversations: Race in the Classroom. ODI, OTL.