Degree(s): B. A. in Philosophy, Humanities, and Honors; Theology minor
Post-Graduate Plans: Attending graduate school, probably either at Oxford where I have been accepted for a Masters in Philosophical Theology, or Fordham where I have been accepted for a Ph.D. in philosophy.
Adviser: Dr. D.C. Schindler; Reader: Dr. William Desmond
We have a vague sense of what we mean by "transcendence," but this sense quickly escapes us if we try to clarify it or pin it down. We use the word "transcendent" paradoxically: to talk about or point to what cannot really be talked about or pointed to, precisely because it is "beyond" the sphere of things immanent, and therefore available, to us. I argue that part of the difficulty we have in suitably conceiving the meaning of transcendence and our proper relation to that which transcends us (for example, God) stems from philosophical decisions made during the Modern period (more or less from the 16th to the 20th century) and paradigmatically expressed in the philosophy of Kant. G.W.F. Hegel, an early 19th century philosopher, and Jean-Luc Marion, a current French philosopher, both criticize Kant's philosophy, especially regarding its implications for how we understand transcendence. I aim to set out their criticisms of Kant and the constructive responses each offers in light of their criticisms, in order to evaluate their respective responses both relative to one another and relative to their ability to offer a satisfying interpretation of the meaning of transcendence and our relation to it.
What is the most interesting thing you discovered while researching/writing your thesis?
The way we understand the world and ourselves is completely backwards. We are not independent individuals who can choose to enter into relations or not to, who completely control what we do with our lives and who we are. Each of us is always already intimately related to and dependent on everyone and everything. In light of that, each of our actions is not a new beginning, but a response: a response both to the gift that we ourselves are (i.e. everything about us, including our very existence, we only have insofar as we have received it), and to the gift of the very possibility of our responding (i.e. even the possibility of receiving the gift is itself a gift).
How do you plan on using the information your research/writing has uncovered, and/or, what kind of change or attention do you hope that your research/writing triggers?
I hope that my thesis research will lead to more fruitful research of Hegel and Marion in graduate school, will have developed my understanding so that I can continue to pursue the questions it poses in various directions, and that sections of it might be publishable as articles, especially the sections about Marion about whom research is still very new and developing.