Writing assignments are either your greatest foe or greatest friend in college. Although Shimer might seem as though it’s teeming with budding writers, artists, and scholars, in reality it has a mixture of both those who truly enjoy writing and those who much prefer to shy away from pen and paper if the opportunity presents itself. I think it’s safe to say that two of my roommates (Jonathan Timm and Taylor Buck) not only embraced writing requirements here at the college, but decided to take the process one step further.
Both applied and were accepted to an undergraduate philosophy conference at the College of New Jersey late last month. Their papers generated quite a bit of buzz amongst the participants because of their non-traditional subject matter. While many other presentations addressed ancient or traditional philosophical concepts, Jon and Taylor applied Feminist critiques to long standing ideas: Jon examined the plausibility of Descartes’ mind/body dualism and Taylor examined the harm that ensues if the word “man” is taken to represent both sexes.To me, their participation and subjects of interest matter a great deal because they serve as a reminder that Shimer isn’t necessarily fixated on a wholly traditional interpretation of the “Great Books Curriculum”. While it’s absolutely necessary to study the bulk of those works at the college, it’s possible to look at the core in a much broader context as opposed to the bubble that is “the text and only the text”. Women have historically been marginalized in terms of “The Great Conversation” and I think to bring them back in a meaningful and constructive way is a perfect example of what it means here at Shimer to be both critical and open minded. After all, we’re reading these books to help make sense of our own lives in the present as much as we are to make sense of the many fascinating and intricate ideas proposed throughout history.
If you’re interested you can read both Taylor and Jon’s papers here:
The Debate Over Man’s Neutrality:Associating Woman with Body: