Your name: Kate Davies
Your home town: Boise, ID
Your major(s): Masters in Philosophy, currently completing my Ph.D.
Are you fluent in any language(s) other than English?
What are your career plans? Teach Philosophy as a Professor
What is your favorite book or author and why?
My favorite author is Plato because I love his take on education. Martha Nussbaum summarizes Plato's view as follows, "Education is being turned round, so that you do not see what you used to see." Learning, seen in this light, is less an accumulation of facts and figures into one's memory and more a reckoning with the terms of an intellectual landscape which can never be made utterly transparent or wholly available at any distinct moment. We can always to turned again to take in the view from a different standpoint.
What is your favorite word? My favorite word is actually a Spanish word—"tiempo." Its most common translation into English is "time," a word philosophers obviously have fretted about understanding properly for centuries. However, the secondary definition of the word is "weather." This may see odd at first, but to me this constellation of meaning highlights how time never simply passes, it is never neutral. Rather, it is always transpiring in a tactile register; we experience the passage of time as warm, cool, misty, biting, frigid, humid, or dry. Our time is infused with moods, limited perspectives, and sudden interruptions. Time also weathers us as it passes, subtly molding and shaping who we are.
Describe (in a short paragraph) a significant breakthrough in your development as a writer: I was a very, very anxious writer in college, studying as a philosophy major. I was so worried that my ideas weren't ever good enough that I had a really hard time starting on essay assignments until the pressure of the deadline forced me to get something down on the page. Then generally, when I would finally start typing something out, I would get so nervous that my sentences weren't perfect that I could hardly remember the ideas for which I was trying to argue. That really shifted for me when I read Emerson's essay Self-Reliance in which he defines the term "genius" differently than I had ever heard it before. He said that when we call a work of art "genius," we aren't commenting on the artist's innate talent or spectacular intellect. Rather, we who receive it as the audience recognize in the art (or invention or breakthrough in technology, etc.) our own discarded thoughts, the ones we dismiss "without notice" just because they were ours. What we lack is not the capacity to think brilliantly, but to stop and notice our own thoughts as they go by. What we need is self-trust. Taking this thought back into my own writing, I started to slowly realize that I was having good thoughts about my readings in class all the time, but thought they weren't good enough so I wouldn't really give myself the freedom to grapple with them. Once I let myself room to play in thinking, writing them became more a process or explaining or making clear my thinking to a reader. Without first believing and trusting that my thoughts were valuable though, I never was able to approach writing without stress and anxiety.