About Me

I’m currently a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University.  I work in the history of philosophy with a focus on Kant’s transcendental idealism.  While I specialize in German thought, from the Early Modern period through the Enlightenment, my work extends into later 19th European Century thought as well – in particular, Nietzsche, Husserlian phenomenology, and the work of Karl Jaspers.  The main focus of my recent research has been concerned with the status and use of ideals in cognition and practical life (including the political).  What are ideals for us?  That is, how is it that they function in our cognition and behavior?  And do certain metaphysical commitments arise as a consequence?

My dissertation, “Evolving the Highest Good: A Study of a Kantian Ideal,” approaches these questions through a study of Kant’s use of the highest good.  I argue, that contrary to a merely moral ideal, the “highest good” (as a moral world in which complete happiness obtains for the morally worthy), comes to function as a logical and metaphysical  grounding of not merely Kant’s ethics, but rather his project of working out the conditions for a consistent and harmonious worldview.  Using historical reconstruction, I reveal that the highest good is best conceived as a theoretical cognition with practical power.  An advantage of my approach, which takes a wide view of the highest good’s relation to his metaphysics, natural philosophy, and anthropology, is that it can make sense of many puzzles in the literature.  I’m indebted to the generosity of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship for their support in my efforts, as well as the Johns Hopkins Department of Philosophy for the Sachs Fellowship and the Arthur O. Lovejoy Fellowship for the completion of my dissertation.

Prior to my Ph.D., I worked at the Phenomenology Section of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg’s Psychiatric Clinic led by Thomas Fuchs and taught business English to employees of BASf in Ludwigshafen, Germany.  I completed my M.A. in philosophy at Heidelberg’s Philosophisches Seminar under the supervision of Anton Friedrich Koch.  Philosophy gripped me when I read Plato for the first time in the Musselman Library at Gettysburg College where I earned my B.A.

 

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