Jared Davenport C'17
1) What made you decide to major in philosophy at Sewanee?
When I arrived at Sewanee, I really had no idea what I wanted to do. As much as students detest general education requirements, there is some value in taking classes in different departments early in your Sewanee career. I found myself in a philosophy class in my first semester, and as cliché as it sounds, I never turned back. Philosophy allowed my intellectual curiosity to grow in a way that I had never experienced before. I came from a public school in Tennessee and I had never taken a class that remotely resembled a philosophy class. It was a fresh and new experience for me. For one of the first times in my life, I looked forward to class each day because I was genuinely interested in the material we covered and the professors were always willing to help you journey through the material in a way that works for you. After completing my first philosophy class, I was certain that it would not be my last philosophy class at Sewanee.
2) What do you think you gained from being a philosophy major?
Philosophy gave me a new lens to view life through. Taking philosophy classes, spending time with philosophy majors, and writing philosophy papers really does change you in a way. I would like to think that I was open minded coming into Sewanee as a freshman, but philosophy really allowed me to continue to cultivate my open mindedness. That’s not to say that it made me abandon any beliefs I had before my philosophy classes, but it certainly allows you to consider these beliefs in a critical lens. Its healthy to look at these beliefs in a critical lens because it will either strengthen your belief more than you could ever imagine, or it will show you that you might have these beliefs for the wrong reasons. It’s a healthy exercise to use this exercise because it helps you understand yourself in a much deeper and meaningful way.
Philosophy also gave me more tangible skills that are extremely valuable in my opinion. Before my philosophy classes, I would like to think that I was a decent writer, but after my philosophy classes, my writing skills have improved drastically. This improvement is the result of the opportunities to practice your writing that the philosophy department provides, but it also stems from a whole new writing style and structure that philosophy classes teach you. My writing engages with the topic and/or material in a way that it never had before I was a philosophy major at Sewanee. In that same vein, philosophy cultivated critical thinking skills that I would argue can be useful in any pursuit you take after your time at Sewanee. It is incredible to see what my fellow philosophy majors go on to do with their lives. Philosophy is unique in that way, it’s a discipline that can be used in many different life pursuits. While I am at law school, I know one of my fellow philosophy majors is going into business and another one wants to be an architect. There really is a lot that you can do with a philosophy degree.
3) What do you plan to do next?
As I am writing this, I am sitting in a law school library, enrolled in my first year of law school. Though I am early into my law school career, I have already begun to reap the rewards of being a philosophy major at Sewanee. In class, my writing and logical reasoning skills has proved helpful in writing objective legal writing assignments and diagramming arguments or spotting missing premises in an argument. In class, I have been able to set myself apart with the skills I gained from Sewanee’s philosophy department. My legal writing professor approached me after class to discuss logical reasoning and diagraming arguments because she was impressed with my contributions in class. It really is an incredible feeling to apply the skills I cultivated during my time at Sewanee to my law school classes.