EducationWillard attended William Jewell College, and later graduated from Tennessee Temple College in 1956 with a B.A. in Psychology, and from Baylor University in 1956 with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion. He went to graduate school at Baylor University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning a Ph. D. in Philosophy with a minor in the History of Science in 1964.
In his book "The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God," Willard writes:
"The most telling thing about the contemporary Christian is that he or she has no compelling sense that understanding of and conformity with the clear teachings of Christ is of any vital importance to [their] life, and certainly not that it is in any way essential..Such obedience is regarded as just out of the question or impossible."
Willard taught at the University of Wisconsin in Madison from 1960-1965. Since then he has taught at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he served as Director of the School of Philosophy from 1982-1985. He has also held visiting appointments at UCLA (1969) and the University of Colorado (1984).
His publications in philosophy are concerned primarily with epistemology, the philosophy of mind and of logic, and with the philosophy of Edmund Husserl. He has translated many of Husserl's early writings from German into English.