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Undergraduate students present at philosophy conference

Three NDSU students, Dominic Manthey, Jeff Rother and Spencer Ptacek, presented research at the 4th Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference Nov. 19 at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Manthey, a senior double majoring in English and philosophy, presented “Existentialism and Buddhism: Problem of the Self.” He said it is a comparative research paper on the philosophical movement of Existentialism and its unique re-evaluation of a "self," which resembles some ancient Buddhist ideas.

Rother, a fifth-year senior who will graduate Dec. 16 with a double major in psychology and philosophy, presented “I and You.” He said the paper was inspired by the book "I and Thou" by Martin Buber and connections between that book, Edmund Husserl material and "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis. 

Ptacek, a fourth-year student double-majoring in English and philosophy, presented “What’s the Difference? A Comparison of Sartre's Nothingness and Derrida's Différance." He said the paper examines of the work of the French philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Jacques Derrida, with specific emphasis on the philosophers' connection to literature.

The students heard about the conference through NDSU professors who assisted with the conference. Dennis Cooley, associate professor, and Vincent Wargo, lecturer, both in the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies, co-chaired the event.

The students say it is beneficial to present their work for a number of reasons.

“It gives an opportunity to gain experience in public speaking. It looks very good on graduate school applications and resumes,” Rother said. “It also allows for critical analysis of your own and others' thoughts and ideas.”

The students hope their work can bring attention to NDSU’s philosophy department.

“When students in NDSU's philosophy program participate in something like this, it is a way of showing that there is still serious interest in the study of philosophy at NDSU, and also perhaps a way of drawing interest to NDSU's philosophy program, which is important,” Ptacek said.

“There is a lot of good scholarship going on and students should be publicly encouraged to attend and listen to what we have to say,” Rother said. 

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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