The philosophy department’s senior thesis topic, “The Philosophical Aspects of the Digital Age,” exemplifies how one can use the intellectual resources of the philosophical tradition to shed light on a contemporary issue.
This year, the philosophy seniors experienced something new for the department. Since there are a grand total of 22 philosophy majors, compared to the eight philosophy majors from last year, the department put on a conference. The philosophy senior conference allowed all students at the University of Dallas to attend their peers’ presentations on their theses and fully engage with them in philosophical debate. The conference allowed for a wider range of viewers and for more people to recognize how hard the students worked on their theses.
“They have produced really fine work on a very interesting topic,” Dr. Philipp Rosemann said. “It seemed a pity to limit the presentations to small groups of people in our department. The quality of the papers presented is so eloquently written, so why not organize such a conference?”
Each philosophy major presented a thesis for 20 minutes, then had a ten minute discussion of the presentation. This gave the audience, made up of professors and students alike, opportunity to ask questions regarding each thesis.
The range of the theses was wide, and included great presentations spanning the social effect of the iPod to the nature of digital memory. The sessions discussed why we depend on the digital, audio and visual so much in today’s society.
The first presentation was at nine in the morning, by Peter Antich. Antich explained why the Internet shapes how we acquire memory, though it is always constantly changing.
Michael Hayes’ paper reflected philosophically on the questions of how music is influenced by the ways in which it is produced and listened to in the digital age, such as the iPod or Spotify, a music streamer connected to Facebook that enables listeners to stream millions of songs for free. Julianna Watkins’ paper was titled “The Central Role of Film in the Digital Age” and reflected on how film can enhance a person’s experience of the movie if the movie is meant to communicate to the audience.
Natalie Weisse’s presentation was titled “The Destruction of Education in the Digital Age and the Resurrection of Education in the Return to a Liberal Education.” Weisse argued that superficiality of the digital age is best combated in and through a liberal arts education.
In the afternoon, Chelsea Tanner asked sharp questions concerning embodiment in the digital age. Her paper was titled “The Impossibility of Identity in an Objective World: Understanding the Experience of Otherness in the Digital Age.” Tanner argued that when we encounter or interact with a person digitally, we no longer meet that person physically, leaving the question: What effect does this produce on human relationships?
Lastly, Robert Weisenburger’s paper was called “Paradigms of Reality: Tradition, Ideas, Information.” Weisenburger looked at the different ways in which humanity has received information over the ages, in the form of scrolls, printed books and digital pages, and asked what effect these media have had on the kind of people we are.
The vast amount of insight the seniors gave proves that they have a full grasp on the core philosophy requirement needed to delve into the thesis topic. The seniors mentioned so far are only a few of the extremely bright students who presented on Saturday, but all of them deserve recognition for their determination and hard work.