Alan Wray C'02
I graduated from Sewanee with a philosophy degree in the spring of 2002. I was particularly inspired by studying Chinese philosophy, as well as Nietzsche. There is a common, bourgeois joke about philosophy majors, which addresses their supposed inability to make any money after graduating. Those making such a joke presume themselves to be more 'realistic' or perhaps more 'practical' than philosophically-minded people, but the real issue is something of a quite different nature.
As a person trained in philosophy, I recognize that, above all, I have gained the ability to consciously explore various aspects of my own thinking-life and my own feeling-life. I have learned to encounter ideas and states of affairs in the world with the intention of discovering how I, personally, relate to these things around me. As someone keenly interested in combating the impulse towards materialism, I have resolved to set priorities for my life which reach beyond any desire for material advancement. I am quite convinced that training in philosophy has helped me to make decisions for my life that correspond to my moral and spiritual ideals. Thus, as a philosopher, I have chosen not to pursue wealth or fame. It is not ineptitude that influences my financial status but a firm resolve to act out of my true self amidst a sea of materialistic messages.
I have spent the past year in Nashville teaching kindergartners at the Linden Corner School, and I feel strongly that young people everywhere need positive and creative influences in their lives. In the coming months, I will be moving to Ireland with a handful of friends, where we plan to run a non-profit theatre company aimed at engaging rural children in artistic projects. I am slowly learning to act on my inner stirrings, which now guide my movement from place to place. My training in philosophy has helped me develop resources within myself to stand up amongst the turbulence of outer pressures and fears, to stand up and truly do what seems right and helpful.