The Colgate Scene
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Excerpts from Antonio Delgado's Rhodes essay
Throughout my life I have always made passionate commitments -- such that to be
without them would seem like being without one's self. As I look at who I am
today, I realize that my passion is philosophy. I have learned that with this
passion comes intellectual autonomy. Some may feel that such autonomy is simply
a ticket to say whatever one feels without any type of defense. Yet nothing
could be more deeply contradictory to the discipline of philosophy. To be
passionate about philosophy is to be willing to put the burden of understanding
on one's self. This not only requires one to set all one's preconceived notions
aside, but it also demands that one be willing to face and deal with
contradiction. It is within these conditions of understanding that one truly
gains autonomy or independence -- as such one relinquishes oneself from the
chains of mental slavery.
. . . My first class at Colgate was "What is Real and What is True." I can remember quite vividly the day my professor introduced to the class the problem Socrates raised to Euthyphro concerning whether God loves what is good because it is good, or is it good because God loves it? What I came to realize is that if good were simply a fact of God's love then God could make murder good. Under such conditions good becomes meaningless. Yet to say that goodness is independent of God would force one to conclude that goodness does not come from God. Understanding this argument and the dilemma it posed gave me an overwhelmingly exhilarating feeling, and yet at the same time I felt intense fear because the problem forced me to question my own beliefs. I can remember spending hours debating with the professor, arguing that even though the dilemma made sense it just could not have been right. There had to be a way to resolve the problem.
Simply understanding the argument and accepting it was not good enough for me. I can remember going late into the night analyzing and breaking the argument down over and over again -- I had to see how it applied to my life. Without engaging in such activity I would have felt incomplete, there was something in me that would not let the issue die. This something could not be linked to anything outside myself, it was entirely my own, something quite different from my desire to play basketball. I now realize that the something was my desire to know.
Reading Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche has created and intensified my passion for understanding. In particular, questions about dealing with the nature of the self in relation to the world are the most appealing to me. This is primarily because their significance transcends the classroom and touches the lives of everyone. This fact cannot be made any clearer to me than whenever I think about how it is possible to know one's self as well as others, within the context of an objective concept such as race. For if one's individual experience is what creates an individual self, what happens when something beyond the individual, such as race, determines one's experience -- does the self remain individual, and how much of the self can one actually claim as one's own? My senior thesis addresses these questions. Such knowledge affects us all and it does so in a way that relates to our actual lives, more specifically to how we treat ourselves and those around us. I have come to believe that knowledge of ourselves and the world is the only guide we have in dealing with the ills of society and the prejudices of humanity, such as racism, classism and sexism.
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