About the Hoose Library of Philosophy

About the historic USC Hoose Library of Philosophy

James Harmon Hoose Library of Philosophy located in the Mudd Hall of Philosophy (MHP), is a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) designated on 12/11/2013. Also, Hoose Library is a part of the University of Southern California National Historic District Designated by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) on 07/14/2015. We have an Instagram account! Search for @uscphilolibrary to follow! Use the hashtags #uscphilolibrary, #studyinthemudd, #hooselibraryofphilosophy to connect! 

Stained glass

The mission of the Hoose Library of Philosophy is to serve the educational and research needs of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff in all aspects of academic philosophy and its allied disciplines. The Hoose Philosophy Library offers in-depth research services during our normal hours of operation. Print reference sources are available in the library. To schedule an appointment for a research consultation please contact either the Head Librarian, Dr. Melissa Miller, or Library & Student Assistant Supervisor, Christina Snider.

The Main Reading Room's impressive design features include a very high cathedral ceiling with massive crossbeams; walls covered with decorative painting and twenty-two recessed plaques depicting great philosophers. Bright, clear windows soar on either side of the room. Tall, graceful columns supporting Moorish arches parallel the windows and delineate study alcoves formed by the book shelves below the windows, accent the length of the room and lead the eye to colorful stained glass windows in the apse. At the end opposite the apse is the great stone fireplace; and down the center of the room, unifying the whole, are five sets of refectory-style tables and chairs. In addition, the entry-way arch displays a wood carving of a scholar and students.

Impressive also is the room formerly known as the Ralph Tyler Flewelling Reading Room. Rich walnut book shelves line three sides of the room. Arched windows on two sides reach above the bookshelves nearly to the high ceiling, and light-colored stucco walls and ceiling soften the light from the windows. Several portraits that once hung in the Flewelling Reading room and are now located in the School of Philosophy Administrative Office: Daniel Robinson, Heinrich Gomperz, Ralph Tyler Flewelling, John Hospers, Ferdinand Canning Scott Schiller, and James Harmon Hoose.

The former Hoose Library of Philosophy Flewelling Reading Room is now being used as the Dornsife Admissions presentation room.

Design Specifics

  • Main Reading Room dimensions: 115 feet long by 22 feet wide by 38 feet high
  • Decorative wall painting designer: Julian Ellsworth Garnsey
  • Stained-glass windows creator: Judson Stained-Glass Studios, Los Angeles
  • Mosaics (22): Originally the subject matter and inscriptions were thought to be supplied by Dr. Ralph Tyler Flewelling, Director of the School of Philosophy; and the design of all but two were by the architect, Ralph Carlin Flewelling. The aim of the mosaics was to depict the succession of philosophical ideas from Greeks through the nineteenth century. Buddha and Confucius are included "as important in the philosophical ideas of a great portion of the human race."
  • There is evidence that 20 of the 22 tile works were designed and created by Helen Bruton. According to information provided by Wendy Good, "In several interviews she [Helen Bruton] discussed being hired by Gladding McBean to finish the project after the first draftsman left the job (after completing Confucius and Buddha)." (Personal email communication from Wendy Good to Melissa Miller, March 17, 2019).
  • Wendy Van Wyck Good is a librarian and archivist at Monterey Peninsula College. Her book about the Bruton sisters will be published by West Margin Press in fall 2021.

Each mosaic depicts the philosopher in a background scene representative of some portion of his life with an inscription from his works. The philosophers and inscriptions are:

South Wall Mosaics

  • Buddha: To the man who does me wrong I will return the protection of my most ungrudging love.
  • Confucius: He who knoweth the truth is not as good as he who loveth it: and he who loveth it is not as good as he who delighteth in it.
  • Thales: It is difficult to know thyself, it is easy to advise others.
  • Heraclitus: For the most tpart the things divine escape us because of our unbelief.
  • Anaxagoras: Mind is infinite and self-ruled.
  • Democritus: The fatherland of the wise and the good is the whole world.
  • Protagoras: Man is the measure of the universe.
  • Socrates: No evil can befall a good man either here or hereafter.
  • Plato: The first and best victory is to conquer self.
  • Aristotle: Dear is Plato, dearer still is truth.
  • Epicurus: If you live according to nature you will never be poor.
  • Augustine: Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in thee.

North Wall Mosaics

  • Albertus Magnus: The creation in time is a revelation of the eternal acting of God.
  • Descartes: Cogito ergo sum [I think therefore I am]
  • Spinoza: To perfect the understanding is nothing else but to understand God.
  • Leibniz: It is God who is the final reason of things.
  • Newton: I have been like a boy playing on the seashore whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
  • Locke: Thinking is the action and not the essence of the soul.
  • Berkeley: Westward the course of empire takes its way, time's noblest offspring is the last.
  • Kant: Mind is supreme and the universe is but the reflected thought of God.
  • Hegel: A nation which has no metaphysics is like a temple possessing no holy of holies.
  • Emerson: Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force.

Melissa Miller and Ruth Wallach, USC Libraries, 1997. Updated 04/2019. http://www.publicartinla.com/    http://www.publicartinla.com/USCArt/Hoose/