I grew up in Des Moines, IA (state capitol building pictured below) and I went to Gustavus Adolphus College for undergraduate studies in Minnesota. I entered college thinking I would major in physics and become an engineer, but found myself graduating in 2016 with degrees in Philosophy and Economics instead. I had an inkling that I might want to study philosophy further, but decided to see what life outside of academia was like before making a decision about graduate school. I moved to Berlin, Germany to get in touch with some relatives, and I worked in bowling alleys and coffee shops. I traveled around Europe a bit, and afterwards I made my way back to Iowa and worked as a landscape production manager. Eventually I decided to pursue graduate studies in philosophy. In 2018, I moved to the Bronx, NY to pursue a PhD in philosophy at Fordham University.
How I came to philosophy
My interest in philosophy developed in college through late night conversations with friends. We talked about religion and God, society and politics, technology and human nature, ethics and the good life. I started out interested in the philosophy of religion and ethics, but my first philosophy course on the mind got me interested in questions about consciousness and whether humans are unique beings or just complex collections of matter whirling around in space. My encounter with David Chalmers's early epiphenomenalism and Jaegwon Kim's physicalism left me feeling defeated. I thought "Surely there must be other ways to think of the mind?", and I began researching alternative views we hadn't covered in class. I happened upon Aristotle's hylomorphic view of human nature and began to wonder if it might provide a better framework for thinking about the mind and human beings in general. I began reading contemporary Aristotelians and Thomists which led me into wanting to study Aristotle's and Aquinas's works.
After that philosophy of mind course, I switched majors and began dual studies in philosophy and economics. My undergraduate education in philosophy was in the analytic and pragmatic traditions, but I was always trying to see how Aristotle or Aquinas might fit into the topics I was studying. My major in philosophy culminated in an independent study on the philosophy of neuroscience in which I sat in on a neurobiology course and wrote a thesis paper engaged with John Haldane's and Paul Churchland's debate about the nature of Folk Psychology.
I took some time after graduation to explore life outside of academia, but philosophical questions never left me and I decided to return to graduate school to learn more. I chose to pursue graduate studies at Fordham where there are strong scholars of medieval philosophy so that I could better understand Aquinas. While at Fordham, I dived deep into medieval thought but I also was exposed to the Husserlian tradition of phenomenology and develop a great appreciation and respect for Husserl, Sartre, and contemporary philosophers informed by these thinkers. I also began to see the questions I was interested about the mind, consciousness, and self-knowledge as aimed at answering questions about human nature. What does it mean to be human? What is distinctive about us or our way of life? One traditional answer is to say that we are rational animals, but what does it mean to be rational? All this is to say I'm a bit of a mish-mash of influences, but I see myself as a philosopher interested in questions of philosophical anthropology and what the history of philosophy might offer for our thinking about these questions today.
My current research is on self-knowledge and it's value. Contemporary epistemologist have focused on self-knowledge insofar as it might be epistemically unique. The way we know ourselves seems different than how we know others, but not in all ways. You might know my character better than I know my character, but I seem to know my pains and beliefs in a way that is much more immediate and secure than the knowledge you might have of them. How is it that we can know ourselves in ways that are so clear in one domain, yet be so opaque to ourselves in the other? And why should we care about knowing ourselves at all? What value does this knowledge have? Is the ability to know ourselves unique? Or are we deceiving ourselves in thinking that self-knowledge is something special to human beings? These are the kinds of questions motivating my current research as I write my dissertation.
When I'm not doing philosophy, I'm running, hiking, cooking, and attempting to water color!