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The Muse of Philosophy sits enthroned on a monumental chair, holding a scepter in one hand, a symbol of power and dominion which may represent philosophy's overarching importance as the discipline whose inquiries underlie all knowledge, learning and human experience. The skull face which adorns the muse's lower bodice near her waist is called a memento mori. It indicates a person who not only reflects upon human mortality but also upon the purposes of human life in the face of death. The figure on the muse's tablet may be the symbol pi, traditionally used in allegory to designate the active practice of philosophy.

Source: Michigan History Magazine (January/February 1999)