Departments of Philosophy and Classics
What do you teach? How long have you been teaching at Trinity?
I’ve been at Trinity three years now, and have loved every minute. (Okay, there were exactly two minutes I didn’t love.) My teaching interests are focused on the bookends, so to speak, of the Western philosophical tradition: ancient Greek philosophy, and 20th Century Continental philosophy. Mostly I work on Plato and Heidegger.
What made you interested in studying and teaching Philosophy?
I had a number of outstanding philosophy professors when I was an undergrad, each of whom contributed in their own way to my love of philosophy. Good teachers are the most important people in the world—other than good students, of course.
Favorite class to teach?
The classes where the students talk and share their ideas! This, to me, is the best part about teaching—getting to hear the perspectives of others. So, I don’t care so much about the topic as long as students are participating at a high level.
Best thing about living in New Haven:
Mamoun’s Middle Eastern restaurant! Also, there is a great punk-rock bar called Three Sheets that always has an exemplary selection of fine beer.
Watership Down, by Richard Adams – though it is hard to read through teary eyes.
Right now? The Wall (Die Wand), starring Martina Gedeck. It is a faithful and beautiful production of Marlen Haushofer’s book of the same name. It is a great existentialist / feminist drama about the labor of life, our kinship to animals, and the inescapable violence of humankind—or, at least, of mankind.
Favorite Trinity moment/experience:
Last Fall, while serving as a faculty mentor for the Bantam Network, I took my students to a pumpkin patch out in the woods. We gallivanted around the corn-maze under the light of the harvest moon, chasing ghosts and picking pumpkins.
‘Mary Had a Little Lamb,’ but you have to sing it in a really slow and sinister way like you’re about to do something unforgivably bad.
Fun fact that your students would be surprised by:
I was a singer / guitar player in a rock-and-roll band. And no, you can’t have my autograph.
Peter B’s order of choice:
‘May I have a 12oz soy latte for here, please?’
3 things that you can’t live without:
Earth, Wind, and Fire
I like pie. A lot. Like, a lot, a lot. Do you have any pie? Can I have some? Thanks!
What made you decide to become Vegan?
Awareness of the extensive suffering experienced by animals who are used for their meat and milk, as well as a growing hesitance to relate to any being purely in terms of utility. In a word? They’re too friggin’ cute.
If you could be any Philosopher throughout history, whom would you choose to be? and why?
I’d be Hannah Arendt, the 20th century political philosopher. She has one of the most incredible minds I’ve ever encountered.
Favorite spot on campus:
What’s “your” philosophy?
I don’t think you can ‘have’ a philosophy. Philosophy is an act, a deed, that is undertaken in concert with other people. To do it well, you need to always be open to listening to others and to changing your mind. Never get too attached to an idea, or it will be hard to let it go!
What’s the one book that you think everyone should be required to read?
The Lives of Animals, by J.M. Coetzee.
Cats or Dogs?
Neither! Why would you eat cats or dogs?! That’s just terrible.
Favorite place to Travel:
Mayor’s Income, Tennessee.
How do you use your philosophical knowledge throughout your daily life?
Philosophy is like a pair of glasses that helps me see the truth of things more clearly. Without it, everything remains obscure and uncertain. With it, however, I look a little dorky.
What message would you like to share with students considering a philosophy major in the future?
There is strong and compelling empirical evidence that a degree in philosophy is more likely to land you a solid job in the business sector than is a degree in Economics or Business. (This is also true of a degree in Classics.) Why? Philosophers are the smartest people in the universe. Period.