I was introduced to philosophy in high school (10th grade) with a novel, Sophie's World. Some of you may be familiar with it. If you are not, it's a novel about a girl who is coming of age and it weaves into the storyline a general overview of the history of western philosophy (because western philosophy is all that really matters in the end ).
After that, I never really read any more philosophy. I thought it was interesting, but there was no money in it. It was something that independently wealthy "old dudes" did.
The summer before my freshman year of college, I did not have access to a computer. My mother, as a result of this, enrolled me in my classes for me. She signed me up for a philosophy 101 class as it met a GE requirement and she knew that I liked to ask the question "why" more than most.
God, I was an annoying kid.
I flourished in that 101 class and the professor, despite it being a 300 person class, took special notice of me. He encouraged me to major in philosophy and attempt to pursue it as a career. I was a business major and hated it; this sounded very appealing to me. On the other hand, I knew that it is a very competitive field and the very few get jobs in philosophy. As a result, I decided that I would minor in philosophy.
For a short while I went from major to major, at one point in linguistics thanks to Temposs, at another in history because I decided that I wanted to do naval intelligence. I just couldn't decide. All the time I still loved philosophy.
I took another course, during my second semester, that basically was just an informal logic course. It was really boring, mostly because it moved at a snail's pace. Even so, I found the philosophy itself interesting.
Over the summer I had the opportunity to study abroad at Oxford (Magdalen College), and had the choice of any tutorial I could possibly imagine. I decided on philosophy of law. That tutorial beat the sh*t out of me, and forced me to really think... and I learned a helluva lot. That made me decide to major in philosophy.
And so I began this year, my sophomore year.
I resolved that if I was going to study philosophy, then I was going to do it right. I was going to try to get work published in order to increase my odds of getting a job. I liked philosophy of law, and particularly the nature of legal obligation, so I thought that I'd do some research there.
I had planned to work with Dr. W, with whom I had my 101 class, in an independent study, but he had just been chosen to be chair of the department and was too busy (although he tried). I was led by a grad student, who is now one of my better friends, to Dr C. Dr C's specialty (among other things) is philosophy of law. Fantastic!
I worked on a paper, with him advising me. Eventually he chose me to TA for his 101 Ethics class (which I am currently doing).
That paper was accepted to an undergraduate conference at Dartmouth. Good, but not good enough.
I have since decided that that paper was cr*p.
Time to move on to my second semester.
Based on the work that I did with him during the first semester, Dr C invited me to his graduate seminar on Plato. This paper is much better: I put a lot more work into it, and just understood a lot more about philosophy by this point.
An early draft was accepted to a graduate conference at LSU.
Still good, but not good enough.
I've been working incessantly to refine and improve that paper, because I want to get it published in a faculty journal.
After a while I sent the paper to Dr W for an independent review of my paper so that Dr C and I could see what someone from a more objective POV thinks of it, as we are both too involved.
He sent a lot of compliments, said it was about ready for a graduate journal, but that something was off about it and it was not ready for a faculty journal. This was about a month ago.
Since then I've worked to improve the paper significantly. Dr C, being the man he is, yells at me if he finds the smallest philosophical error and asks me how I'm going to fix it--mind you, he never tells me or even hints at how I ought to fix the problem. He just points out that there's a problem.
I just sent the latest draft to Dr W a few days ago and received a response a few hours ago.
It said, among other things, "I urge you to submit the draft to a professional journal."
If it is accepted, then that will be good enough... for now.
I completely understand where you're coming from. Although stemming from a different source, I also have a love for philosophy and imagine I'll be going into the same dilemma as I (finally) start attending college this fall. I can also appreciate your desire to continue developing your skills and understanding.
I've never read Sophie's World, but I really guess I should. I think I'll read it tonight.
Good luck in your pursuits, and I'm definitely interested in seeing where they take you. Legal philosophy is a fascinating subject, and I hope to see great things from you.
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