Philip Novak, PhD

Philip Novak, Ph.D., Dean of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Professor of Philosophy
50 Acacia Ave.
San Rafael, CA 94901
Phone: 415-485-3279




Philip Novak took his undergraduate degree in English from the University of Notre Dame in 1972, and his M.A and Ph.D. degrees in Religion from Syracuse University in 1981. A Sarlo Distinguished Professor in the Graduate Humanities and undergraduate Philosophy, Religion & Spirituality programs for over 30 years, Novak has also served as founding Dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences from 2009-11.  Novak has published forty articles and reviews in both scholarly and popular journals and is the author of The World's Wisdom, an anthology of the sacred texts of the world's religions (HarperSanFrancisco 1994, also available as an e-book), The Vision of Nietzsche (Vega, 1996), Buddhism: A Concise Introduction (co-authored with Huston Smith, HarperSanFrancisco 2002, also available as an e-Book), and the editor/author of The Inner Journey: Views from the Buddhist Tradition (Morning Light, 2005). He lives in Tiburon, California with his wife, Bridgett. 



  • Ph.D.  Dept. of Religion,  Syracuse University, 1981.  
  • M.A.,  Dept. of Religion, Syracuse University, 1975.
  • B.A.,  Dept. of English, University of Notre Dame, magna cum laude, 1972.


Research Interests

  • Philosophy of Religion, especially the work of Prof. John Hick
  • The Spirituality of the Human Species
  • Interdisciplinary Studies in Big History
  • Buddhism
  • Science and Religion


Courses Taught

  • World Religions Survey
  • Philosophies and Spiritualities of Asia
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Myth, Symbol and Ritual
  • Culture and Symbol: The Creation of Meaning
  • John Hick’s Philosophy of Religious Pluralism
  • Buddhism
  • Science, Religion and the Human Future
  • Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present




1.  The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions (San Francisco: Harper, 1994). Adopted as a text in college courses on the World’s Religions, a selection of the Book of the Month Club and the History Book Club, translated into Portuguese and Dutch, with over 72,000 copies in print.

2.  The Vision of Nietzsche (New York and London: Element Press, 1996, republished in London: Vega Books, 2001).

3.  Buddhism: A Concise Introduction (HarperSanFrancisco: 2003), co-authored with Huston Smith.

4.  The Inner Journey: Views from the Buddhist Tradition (Sandpoint, Idaho: Morning Light Press, 2005).



1.   Religion and Altruism, Institute of Noetic Sciences, Sausalito, California: February, 1992.



1.  "C.G. Jung in the Light of Asian Psychology" Religious Traditions, (Vol. 14, 1991), pp.66-87.

2.  "The Chun-Tzu," Fragments of Infinity (Festschrift for Huston Smith), Arvind Sharma, ed. (New York: Avery Publishing, 1991).

3.  "Mystical Experiences and the Search for Human Spiritual Perfection" New Realities (Vol. X, No.6, 1990, pp.22-24).

4.  "The Practice of Attention" Parabola (Vol. XV, No. 2: May, 1990), pp.4-13. Reprinted in The Inner Journey: Views from the Buddhist Tradition (Morning Light Press: 2005).

5.  "Mysticism, Enlightenment and Morality" ReVision, Volume 12, no.1, Summer 1989.

6.  "Buddhist Meditation and The Great Chain of Being: Some  Misgivings,”Listening, Vol.24, No.1, Winter, 1989.

7.  "Buddhism and the Problem of Identity--Or, On the Virtue of Not Knowing Who You Are" Man's Search For Meaning in a Fragmented Universe, P. De Silva and H.O. Thompson eds., (Barrytown, New York: Unification Theological Seminary, 1988).

8.  "On the Virtue of Not Knowing Who You Are"  Quest, Vol.1, no.2, Winter, 1988

9.  "Plato and the Computer: The Pursuit of Wisdom in an Age of Information," The Thread of Ariadne, P. Umphrey, ed. (Fort Bragg, CA: Q.E.D. Press, 1988).

10. "Time, Noise and God: A Commencement Address" Dominican Quarterly, Summer, 1988.

11.  "Attention," Encyclopedia of Religion  Mircea Eliade et al, eds.  (New York: Macmillan, 1987), vol.1, pp. 501-509.

12.  "Tao How?: Asian Religions and the Problem of Environmental  Degradation," REVISION, Vol.9, No. 2, Winter/Spring, 1987. Reprinted as a "classic" in a special Ecology edition of REVISION, Fall, 1993.

13.  "The Chun-Tzu," Syracuse University Magazine, Vol. 3, No. 1, February, 1987.

14.  "The Buddha and the Computer: Meditation in an Age of Information," Journal of Religion and Health, Vol.25, no.3, July, 1986.

15.  "The Dynamics of Attention in Spiritual Discipline", in Ultimate Reality and Spiritual Discipline, James Duerlinger, ed. (New York: Paragon House, l984). 

16.  "The Dynamics of Attention: Core of the Contemplative Way," Studies in Formative Spirituality, Vol. V, No.1, February, 1984.

17.  "The Dynamics of the Will in Buddhist and Christian Practice," Buddhist-Christian Studies, Journal of the East-West Religions Project, University of Hawaii, vol.4, 1984.

18.  "Spiritual Discipline and Psychological Dream Work: Some Distinctions," Studia Mystica, Spring, 1980.

19.  "Archetypes, Angels and Kant's A Priori: The Guardians at the Gate," ReVision, Vol.3, No.2, Fall, 1980.               

20.  "From The Religions of Man to The World's Religions: A Conversation with Huston Smith" Quest, Vol. 4, no.4, Winter, 1991

21.  "Universal Theology and the Idea of Cosmic Order" in Dialogue and Alliance, Vol. 6, no.1, Spring 1992.

22.  "Universal Theology and the Idea of Cosmic Order" in World Faiths Encounter, July, 1992.

23.  "Buddhist Meditation and the Transformation of Time Consciousness," Journal of Consciousness Studies Vol. 3, No. 3, 1996.

24.  “Who Really Killed Jesus?” in the Academic Vice-President’s Faculty Newsletter, D.U.C., May 2004.


Book Reviews:     

1.  Concept and Empathy: Essays in the Study of Religion, by Ninian Smart, ed. Donald Wiebe, in Critical Review of Books in Religion, 1987-88.

2.  Search for Nothing: The Life of St. John of the Cross, by Richard Hardy, in Studia Mystica, Spring, 1984.

3.  Inter Views, by James Hillman, in Commonweal, October 7, 1983.

4.  Buddhism and Christianity: A Preface to Dialogue, by Georg Siegmund, in Philosophy East and West, Spring, 1982.

5.  Fullness of Life: Historical Foundations of Christian Asceticism, by Margaret Miles, in New Catholic World, Summer, 1982.

6.  America Without Violence, by Michael Nagler, in Studia Mystica,

7.  Towards a New Mysticism: Teilhard de Chardin and Eastern Religions, by Ursula King, in New Catholic World, Spring, 1981.

8.  Mencius and Aquinas: Theories of Virtue and Conceptions of Courage, by Lee Yearley, in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 60, 2, Summer 1992.

9.  Street Zen, by David Schneider, Sunday Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, 12-19-93.

10. Resurrection, by John Shelby Spong, Sunday Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, 4-3-94.

11. Essays on World Religion: Huston Smith, ed. by Darrol Bryant, in Dialogue and Alliance, Vol. 11, No. 1, Spring-Summer, 1997.

12. Dimensions of the Sacred, by Ninian Smart; in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 66, No.1, Spring 1998.

13. Woven On the Loom of Time: Many Faiths, One Divine Purpose by Darrol Bryant in Dialogue and Alliance, Vol. 16, No.1, Spring/Summer 2002.

14. “One for the Sages”, a review of The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong in the Shambhala Sun, July, 2006. Circulation 75,000.

15.  “Living Buddha, Living Christ”: a tenth-anniversary appreciation of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book by the same name, Tricycle, Summer, 2007.


Prefaces and Forewords:

1.  Foreword to the republication of The Religion of Man by Rabindranath Tagore (Rhinebeck, N.Y.: Monkfish Publishing, 2004).