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HomePhilosophyJustin Caouette: What is it like to be a philosopher?

Justin Caouette: What is it like to be a philosopher?

The APA weblog is working with Cliff Sosis of What is it Like to Be a Philosopher? in publishing advance excerpts from Cliff’s long-form interviews with philosophers.

The following is an edited excerpt from an interview with Justin Caouette.

This interview has been edited for size. The full interview is accessible at What Is It Like to Be A Philosopher?  

In this interview Justin Caouette, full time, non-tenure monitor Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University and a part-time philosophy teacher at Rutgers University, UMass–Dartmouth, and Northeastern University, talks about rising up in Fall River Massachusetts with a single mother, getting kicked out of highschool, poisonous masculinity, writing about sports activities for the varsity newspaper, arguing concerning the Trinity, AIM, ingesting and smoking at Bristol Community College till transferring to Bridgewater State, worrying about cash, discovering philosophy, clubbing, basketball, hip hop, libertarianism, Vicodin and OxyContin, working at LensCrafters, going to Washington State University, Myspace, climbing, transferring on to Calgary, stepping into the free will and ethical accountability literature, studying to be much less aggressive, getting married, changing into a dad, managing tasks of fatherhood and graduate faculty, engaged on his dissertation whereas frightened about cash, butting heads together with his dissertation advisor, beginning one other dissertation, imposter syndrome, the connection between onerous work and success on the job market, Marcus Arvan and Philosophers Cocoon, changing into a Bernie supporter, instructing 23 lessons a 12 months, underprivileged viewpoints inside philosophy, Trump, antics from the left, the issue with optimistic free will skepticism, My Cousin Vinny, Metallica, Juice Wrld, and his final meal.

Any indicators youd turn into a thinker?

I believe so. The largest signal got here from fifth grade. I went to a Catholic faculty from kindergarten by eighth grade, and we had faith class 4 days a week. When discussing the Trinity I pressed the priest usually. So a lot in order that after I went and received my grasp’s diploma at Washington State, an previous classmate reached out to inform me how a lot sense it made to them that I used to be pursuing philosophy. I suppose that my interactions with the priest had led them to turn into an atheist, and I hadn’t identified my influence till that second. Just a few years later a few different classmates reached out with related sentiments and that was humbling to hear that I used to be having that impact on others at such an early age.

How did you uncover philosophy? 

I used to be a psychology main upon coming into Bridgewater State and I took a philosophy class to fill an open time slot in my schedule. I took Philosophy of Human Nature with Laura McAlinden and I used to be instantly hooked. Other favourite lessons at Bridgewater had been Happiness and Meaning in Life, Plato and Aristotle, and Buddha, Socrates, and Jesus. Aeon Skoble and Ed James had been additionally influential to me after I was a pupil in several methods.

How did you mature, philosophically?

Aeon and Laura by no means allowed me to get away with my first tackle a problem, they all the time pressed me to higher clarify my place and I turned a a lot clearer thinker due to the questions they might ask and extra importantly the best way they requested the questions. Being a robust individual, I noticed anybody disagreeing with me as a signal of confrontation, and I might instantly change my tone and start arguing backwards and forwards. Laura and Aeon may inform I used to be tough across the edges and quite than simply write me off as a punk they took the time to press me in a extra delicate manner. They actually helped me to construct my confidence as a pupil and thinker and opened my eyes to so many traits I had that had been poisonous and had been holding me again from being the very best model of myself. They did this not by telling me something damaging about myself, however by explaining the totally different positions I might argue in opposition to with readability and asking deep and significant questions on why I might maintain the views that I might. I’ll always remember Laura telling me I used to be a feminist (she was Dr. McAlinden to me on the time) and I responded by saying “really, what about me comes across as feminine?” I had no thought what feminism was in 2005. I used to be merely insulated in my little sports activities, membership, and weed bubble, and barely had discussions about gender or feminism or poisonous masculinity, and I took her remark as a damaging one. She then defined what feminism was and I knew immediately that I used to be a feminist. She just lately handed (abruptly), and shedding her is a massive loss for me. In truth, the full-time place I at the moment maintain was her vacated place within the division. It would be one thing if I ended up right here completely as her substitute, however not often do issues work out on this manner.

How did you develop as a pupil?

School all the time got here straightforward to me after I really confirmed up, however philosophy lessons had been totally different. I couldn’t get by with my wit and basic data. I had to do the studying. I used to be greatly surprised by the depth of the conversations and for the primary time in my life I used to be studying issues for pleasure. I used to be studying texts that weren’t assigned simply to get a higher grasp on the discussions that had been happening within the classroom. I used to be bitten by the bug, because the saying goes. I went from not even doing the readings half the time in my programs and nonetheless doing okay to studying all the things that was assigned after which some. I used to be making connections from the theories we mentioned in my psych lessons to the philosophical arguments we had been having about human nature, identification, and free will. I really discovered my ardour, as tacky as it sounds. I turned a double main the next semester and I’m satisfied that’s what helped essentially the most in my success as a pupil and in life.

What did your mother make of your resolution to main in philosophy?

My mother was all the time supportive when it got here to my schooling. She simply wished me to get a school diploma. She would have most well-liked one thing with a ability set that received me a job proper out of college however on the finish of the day she was simply proud that I used to be sticking with faculty and getting a diploma. She was my largest supporter and cheerleader, and she or he was all the time prepared to pay attention to my new paper concepts and ask me good questions.

What did you do for enjoyable? 

At BSU I used to be going to the membership a lot much less. I used to be actually into hip hop and the membership scene in Providence, RI, and sometimes Boston, MA however that pale proper concerning the time I received into BSU. The three years I spent there consisted largely of me studying a lot and relationship. That stated, I did play basketball after I got here up for air, enjoying basketball and going to the health club had been all the time an essential a part of my life. I saved in contact with a few of my previous mates by enjoying organized flag soccer for a few years as properly. That helped me really feel like I wasn’t forgetting the place I got here from, so to communicate. For some motive that was all the time a concern for me. I didn’t need to flip into somebody that thought they had been higher than others simply because I made a decision to get the diploma and they didn’t. I had far an excessive amount of enjoyable bouncing round from BCC to UMass–Dartmouth and again to BCC, so I used to be considerably higher about having an excessive amount of enjoyable after I received to BSU. In the summers although, that’s a totally different story. The seashore was all the time a good time, as had been nights out in Providence and smoking with my mates.

When did you determine to go to grad faculty? Did you take into account doing something apart from philosophy?

Upon graduating from BSU in 2008, Aeon and Laura prompt grad faculty to me. I didn’t know a lot about how grad faculty labored and after I was instructed that they might pay me to go to faculty and provides me a scholarship I used to be in disbelief. Aeon was clear with me that I ought to solely do it if I acquired funding, as a result of the job market prospects weren’t that nice. He prompt I take a 12 months off after graduating. I had a fairly good paying job on the time as an apprentice optician and retail supervisor at LensCrafters. Acknowledging I used to be doing properly for myself he urged me to be certain I wished to give that every one up. And, after a 12 months away if I nonetheless wanted to get again into it, then I ought to and he would be pleased to stroll me by the method. He prompt a few MA applications and I discovered a few MA/PhD applications and I utilized. I used to be actually hoping to get into Tufts to work with Dan Dennett as it was a lot nearer and I wasn’t positive about a massive transfer. But looking back that wouldn’t have been nice in any respect given I wanted the change of surroundings and that change of surroundings actually impacted me greater than another occasion in my life. I utilized to twelve faculties after BSU, and just one accepted me with full funding—Washington State University in Pullman, WA.

You can get full entry to the interview and assist help the venture right here.

Dr. Sabrina D. MisirHiralall is an editor on the Blog of the APA who at the moment teaches philosophy, faith, and schooling programs solely on-line for Montclair State University, Three Rivers Community College, the University of South Carolina Aiken, and St. John’s University.


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