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I speak Italian. I’m working on German. Classical Greek and Latin? They’re coming, I promise! Sooner or later. But if I’m being honest with you, the language I’d like to learn more than any other is Maori. The language of the indigenous people of the country of New Zealand.
Why is this important to me? Well, it’s important to broaden your horizons with…
Actually, it’s for love. And you know what, that’s got to be an absolutely fine reason, too. Global awareness is, at its core, something we try to build because we aim to forge stronger bonds with those peoples and cultures external to our own. We try to learn from one another, so that, perhaps, we can become closer with one another. I don’t know if my goal, our goal, of a cosmopolitan world bound together by love and mutual aspiration, is anything more than a dream, in the end; but the Maori have a saying, that goes like this:
“He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.” “What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, the people, the people.”
“Smith and Jones are applying for a job.” That’s essentially how he starts, when Edmund Gettier sets about destroying the last natural, logical argument in favour of a self-contained, logical, valid definition of knowledge. Or, I should say, did set. Because Gettier’s paper, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?,” was published in 1963–fifty seven years ago.
And we still don’t have a good answer.
Some say yes; some say no; some say yes and no; and most of us healthy, sane people beat our heads against the wall when leathery, half-pickled philosophers start questioning things they have no business questioning whatsoever. Edmund Gettier is ninety-two years old, and he still hasn’t found the answer, either.
Is justified true belief knowledge? If not, what is? Actually, can we say that anything in particular is knowledge?These are hard questions, troubling questions. But they’re worth asking–
I want to find the answers.
“Academic,” in the common parlance, means “relating to education and scholarship.” But it has another meaning; a more idiosyncratic one; and, perhaps, a more important one: “Not of practical relevance; of only theoretical interest.”
Have you ever heard something so absurd in your life?
Theory informs action. Interest creates importance. Value. Necessity. The idea that anything could be ‘irrelevant’ because it is not physical, or tangible, would be laughable if it were not so widely believed.
Academic enrichment is the rounding-out of a scholarly experience; but it is also, importantly, the fulfillment of inquiry. A student is not merely waiting to become something else; in fact, we never really leave the academic sphere of life, even when we transition to the workforce. Or when we retire from it. To live is to learn–and learning is a life-long experience.
My academic enrichment comes in the form of loftier inquiry; of seeking knowledge as an end unto itself, and seeking it to its end, as far as I may mortally seek it. To breach the barriers of ignorance which hide the higher extents of human knowledge from the lowly student; to research contemporary problems with eminent scholars; to defend an undergraduate thesis on a philosophical matter dear to my heart.
The Urban Dictionary has its own definitions for “Academic:” As an adjective, “insufferably obtuse;” and as a noun, “an un-entertaining charlatan.”
If that is how the world sees academia; if theory has degenerated in status while practice has retained its hallowed place, then I know how I must seek academic enrichment. I will bring the knowledge that I find about me everywhere into the dialogue of the day, and be enriched with each and every inquiry, topic, defense and counterargument. I will join clubs and societies; I will write papers and essays; I will speak and I will argue and I will listen.
That is what it means to be a student.
The other day, I applied for BESST; the Baker East / Smith-Steeb council. Two days ago, I tried out for OSU’s collegiate Mock Trial team. Three days ago, I was stressing out of my mind because in one day I was trying out for OSU’s collegiate Mock Trial team.
I didn’t make the team.
But does that make me any less of a leader? I say, nay. It does not. Leadership is about how you comport yourself; we lead by example as much as, if not more than, we lead through communicating and directing. When you undertake something difficult, you are making a statement of belief in yourself. And that’s inspiring.
I certainly wouldn’t have tried out if I hadn’t been inspired by those in my life who were leaders to me. Whether they were my friends, or my family, or my heroes–they were leaders not because they told me what to do, or even showed me what to do. They were leaders because they showed me how to do it.
With pride; with dignity; with an endless spirit of hopeful aspiration bounded only in compassion for one’s fellow man. To lead is to follow those who have lead before, and to hope that your actions will help forge the leaders who come after you.
I will find leadership in doing. In every way I can apply myself, whether it is as an individual, as a member of a team, or as a citizen of a nation, and of the world.
I will lead in doing.
About a week ago, I found myself wandering around the grassy field outside of my dorm tower. Picking up litter. For minutes.
It felt like hours; but only because I was heading off to grab dinner with my pals and got side-tracked by the unacceptable state of our demesne.
The point is, serving is easy. It’s really easy. The hard part is remembering to! When something seems so easy and simple, it’s often expedient to dismiss it–you could always do it later, after all.
You could always donate to charity; so you don’t have to worry about this one guy, this one time.
We tell ourselves all kinds of little lies to make ourselves feel better; and it works, really too well, for too many people. Nobody is immune to self-interest, and it’s especially hard to want to do something that you won’t get much recognition or ‘benefit’ for, when you have to spend your time, energy, and resources to do it.
Plato knew well the troubles of the intemperate man. In order to be just, we must really desire to be just, as an end unto itself; according to the platonic-aristotelean model of virtue, true goodness is only achieved when a person is happy to do right, and does not merely do it for their own self interest. I want to be like that–to be temperate. I want to help those in need; clean up my environment; and give back to my community, not just because it’s good, but because it’s right.
I’m not sure if I’m there yet; my OCD plays a significant part in my litter-mindedness, also. But we do our best, day by day, to become the people we want to be.
The people we have to be.
[“Career” is where you can collect information about your experiences and skills that will apply to your future career. Like your resume, this is information that will evolve over time and should be continually updated. For more guidance on using your ePortfolio, including questions and prompts that will help you get started, please visit the Honors & Scholars ePortfolio course in Carmen. To get answers to specific questions, please email email@example.com. Delete these instructions and add your own post.]
Nicole Boutsikaris cares about people. On Tuesday, September the 22nd, I sat down at my desk for the Zoom interview with my PSL peer mentor intent on figuring her identity, beliefs, motivations and such from a few routine questions. What I’d learn over the course of our interview is that you can learn a lot more about person by examining their character than you can through their various and sundry personal interests.
We were a few minutes late getting started: After changing the meeting to a Zoom call a few minutes before, I’ll admit to feeling a little trepidatious. But Nicole didn’t seem to mind: “I’m a person who is open very much off the bat,” she said, “and trusting of people.” Nicole puts people first; more than any other reason, her love of sociality motivated her to join so many student organizations, numbering amongst them her sorority and her scholars program. “In today’s culture, it’s so important to get to know people of different backgrounds,” Nicole reported, when asked about her purposes in getting involved on campus.
As it turns out, the theme of ‘people first’ goes a lot deeper than student organizations. Nicole “honestly couldn’t live without [her] family,” with whom she feels she can be completely and totally open and honest–but she doesn’t feel held back with her ordinary social circles, either. “I love my friends,” Nicole says; and “I don’t have any barriers, getting to know new people.”
More than her volunteer or academic involvement, Nicole’s outlook on friendship informs her identity. According to Nicole, her attitudes and values reflect her core personality: “I would say I’m an extremely, extremely genuine person,” she explained; “I’m always caring about people, not only my family, but my friends.” Self-described as “authentic,” Nicole believes that she has a “firm identity,” knows who she “is in life,” and knows how she “wants to be perceived.”
While you can’t learn everything there is to know about a person in thirty minutes, you can get a sense of their character. Intuition, induction and heuristics can sometimes tell you a lot more than facts or rigid deduction. Nicole sticks to her beliefs; she knows who she wants to be, what she values in herself and others. In half an hour, she did not once contradict the principles she appeared to support–
Friendliness, genuineness and conviction.
Silence speaks volumes. Broken by the sounds of my almost painful deliberation, my silence was an answer in itself. “Romantic Rule-Utilitarian,” I said, after struggling to answer the question for a length of time that felt like an eternity, but which couldn’t have lasted longer than thirty seconds.
The question was, “If you had to choose three words to describe yourself, what would they be?”
Ok, so you’re probably either laughing, or bored, or you think I’m some kind of crazy goof who makes mountains out of molehills. But listen: When you start asking certain philosophical questions, you start to realize that so much of what you take for granted about who you are, what you are, and what you know, is founded on nothing other than the blind assumption that the world is a certain way. That truth and meaning ought to align with your idea-constructs without much difficulty.
I gave the best answer that I could–and it was woefully inadequate. It meant a lot; and it said nothing, at all, compared to the vast silence that yawned before it, the chasm that threatened to choke all my nascent attempts at self-definition. I could spend hours talking about romance, monologuing about John Stuart Mill, but really, the best way I can describe myself to you isn’t with words; it’s with questions.
I can’t just speak my truth; I have to question it! I’m a Philosophy Major; I play chess, and spend too much time wondering if I take it too seriously, or not seriously enough; I counter-argue my own claims, out loud, before other people get the chance to chime in. It drives them bonkers.
Am I a moral person? I don’t know. I never feel like I measure up fully to the picture of myself that others paint. They tell me I should make audiobooks.
I don’t know about all that; I don’t know if I’m very much of a philosopher, or if I’m too much of one. I don’t know if I can even know much of anything. But I know that I have to try–
My name is Beowulf Rumpf.