These past few months in Dublin have been an incredible time to deepen my involvement on Trinity’s campus and see the city around me as an academic, tourist, and Dubliner myself. I joined the TCD Philosophical Society, one of the oldest student societies in the world, and had the opportunity to compete at the 2023 Oxford IV debate tournament. I partnered with a well-known Irish debater, Dylan McCarthy; I’m proud to say that Dylan and I broke fourth and made it to the semi-finals, before losing on an unfortunate split panel.
Members of the TCD Phil at the Oxford IV 2023 debate tournament
I’m especially grateful for this opportunity because it allowed me to make close Irish friends and really feel immersed in where I am. I also performed in the Trinity Orchestra along with fellow Mitchell Scholar Teresa Gao. We played one of my favorite symphonies of all time, Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
Trinity Orchestra’s Fall 2023 Concert
One of my favorite things about this past semester has been the opportunity to study Heidegger with Professor Lillian Alweiss, a specialist on the topic. I’ve been thinking about being, the 1/2 titular topic of Being and Time, especially in conjunction with recent political events in Dublin.
There is a passage in St. Augustine’s Confessions where he faithfully asks God about the nature of Being: “I am a creature who remembers… What is closer to me than myself?,” he asks, inviting us to think about the role of identity and the past in forming one’s being. These beings for whom Being is an issue are called Dasein. I started thinking about this, something I had learned in class, when, on November 23, the same day as American Thanksgiving, anti-immigrant riots broke out in Dublin city center, close to Trinity’s campus.
In Heidegger, there is a central place for the role of history, and historicity, in forming one’s Being. Without a recognition of one’s history, we get subsumed into a sort of everyday, averageness, and forget to confront the question of Being. In the context of the riots, the Irish, historically, are not anti-immigrant people. The Irish people, in a sense, have forgotten parts of history and failed to confront the question of Being.
On another note, I had a chance encounter with a former teacher of mine that reminded me that the world is truly a small place. I studied Mandarin for many years and one of my favorite things about learning a second language are those words that are untranslatable. In reality, they have a translation, but the translation loses something essential to the meaning (for any philosophers out there, similar to Kuhn loss!). The word yuanfen means a connection that is both serendipitous and coincidental–something that was bound to happen but faced incredible odds. The mixing of two opposites is a feature of Daoist philosophy, like yin yang. A few months ago, I bumped into and got coffee with my former 7th grade English teacher. Her daughter, a college student, was studying abroad in Dublin and she was visiting. It was heartwarming to see and thank an influential mentor in my life, someone who inspired my love of reading, and be able to thank them and tell them the impact they made on my life. I was recently accepted into Cambridge’s History and Philosophy of Science PhD program, and to be able to thank someone who has nurtured my academic journey from middle school meant a lot to me.
With my former middle school teacher, Mrs. Batza.
To the new year!