And we’re back! Real Lives of Graduate Students continues with a response to our questionnaire by a philosophy student named Jacob.
Enjoy our third installment of this series, and keep checking back to learn more about the real lives of graduate students!
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Why graduate school, as opposed to something else?
Beyond the fact that I am no more employable with a B.A. in philosophy that without one, I really love the material that I study. Having done a lot of other things in my life (Chef, coffee roaster, attempted rock star), I really can’t imagine myself pursuing anything but a professorship.
What is the significance of your Work?
I would hope that my work serves of no direct pragmatic significance. If it did, it would not rightly be philosophy except maybe Bio-medical ethics or philosophy’s ungrateful spawn, the (natural) sciences and law. When queried about “what is it that you guys do; just sit around and bullshit all day?” or better yet “what are you going to do with that [degree]?”, I ask them if a career in accounting or mechanical engineering or chemical engineering really constitutes doing something. That usually shuts them up. I then hammer it home by noting that I speak 5 languages (not fluent in all). At that point they go back to whatever they are doing, impressed but annoyed. I wouldn’t be a jerk about it if I was not asked such rude and awful questions semi-regularly.
As for significance within my field, I would like to help push back towards a more continental approach to philosophy, rather than analytic. I am far less interested in the cult of ‘getting published’ than I am in a stable teaching position and a nice quiet little life as a college professor.
What do you see as the fundamental essence of academic study?
The essence of academic study is to become immersed and fluent in the language of one’s chosen field. From this one can maintain or advance the corpus of thought as well as educate young people.
What keeps you awake at night?
Caffeine. Reading Hegel. Pure Will.
What are the meanings of your actions and desires?
Boy that’s a broad question, if I’ve ever seen one. I hope that my actions and desires can help preserve and maintain rational discourse in the public sphere as well as the classroom.
Why are you who you are?
A lot of my central influences are my parents, both of whom are intellectuals to varying degrees; My Grandfather, whom I dearly miss, was a university professor. When he passed away I got his desk, his typewriter, his pocket watch and some of his bowties. I keep physical reminders of him in my life as he is a deep inspiration for me. This might sound strange as I am a secularist now, but growing up as an Episcopalian influenced me a great deal. The sense of ‘high’ language and relative intellectual freedom was very important to my upbringing. Having stayed in my home town of Tulsa has been really influential as well.