On Thursday, Jan. 28, Dr. Eileen Sweeney from Boston College came to give a speech on Thomas Aquinas and our commentary editor Jake Loel sat down with her to discuss her speech.
JL: I’ve noticed your focus is in Catholic Philosophers, particularly in [St.] Thomas Aquinas. What sets his philosophy apart from the other philosophers?
ES: Medieval philosophy is made deeper and more complex by the fact they ha[d] to come to terms with a transcendent God.
JL: Why is it important for everyone to study philosophy?
ES: I think Aristotle says it best in “Protrepticus.” He asks, “why is it important to study philosophy? But to answer that question itself is philosophy.” We are implicitly always doing philosophy. In defending our values, it’s implicit to make these views explicit and thoughtful.
JL: Would you say we are moving away from a philosophical focus to a STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] focus in education?
ES: That is a question. I was on a panel at Harvard … and there’s a controversy there, shouldn’t we be doing STEM to make the world better? But the question is: “what is better?” That question can only be answered from philosophy and the perspective of the liberal arts.
JL: Do you have any advice to give to UD students?
ES: What I remember … best about my time at UD is how my views were challenged and expanded, and I would advise students to seek that as much as possible, not in the spirit of debate or argument, but in the spirit of imaginatively inhabiting other ways of seeing the world.