SUNY Oneonta

Department of Philosophy
160 Fitzelle Hall
SUNY Oneonta
Oneonta, NY 13820-4015

Phone: (607) 436-2456
Fax: (607) 436-2435



Children of Athena PREFACE


In October of 1995, I invited a select group of students to attend a conference on Greek and Islamic Philosophy. The weekend proved exceptional in many ways. Several students began talking about holding a conference of their own, for undergraduate students. With a bit of encouragement and a lot of work, we hosted our first conference during March of 1996. Three years later I continue to be amazed by the response and support we have received, the quality of the papers that have been submitted, and the dedication of our own students. Even as I write this preface, one of my students is busy in another office, creating the program for our fourth annual conference. That he is doing so on his spring break only serves to reinforce my conviction that somewhere, somehow, we must have done something right.

Part of what we have done right, I believe, is to treat students with respect and professionalism. By encouraging excellence, we have been rewarded in kind. The current volume represents the best of our third conference (April 3-4, 1998). Seven of the twelve student papers published here received special awards, described below. The others, as will be obvious to anyone who reads the essays, made decisions concerning those awards especially difficult.

The conference itself was a dynamic interplay of personal commitment, intellectual energy, and youthful exuberance. Thirty remarkable papers were presented by students from twenty prestigious institutions: Adelphi University, Alfred University, American University, Clark University, Fordham University, George Washington University, Hunter College, Marymount University, Nazareth College, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oneonta, Syracuse University, Taylor University, United States Military Academy, University of New Hampshire, Vassar College, Wheaton College, College of William and Mary, Xavier University, and Yale. As evidenced by the program (pp. 297-323), their papers covered a wide range of exciting topics, including: Moral Philosophy, Racial Prejudice, Physician-Assisted Suicide, Justice, Love, Tibetan Buddhism, Hermeneutics, the Ontological Argument Concerning the Existence of God, and the Philosophical Views of Derrida, Foucault, Heidegger, Kant, Nietzsche, Ricouer, Rousseau, Plato, Putnam, and Wittgenstein.

Each paper represented an exceptional student's best work. In most cases, it was the first time the student had presented a paper beyond the confines of a classroom. The inherent intimidation of presenting one's work in public, combined with the knowledge that it would be subject to critical blind review, resulted in a significant measure of self-selection. I know many capable students who elected not to submit. But for those who summoned the courage, the experience was remarkable. Presentations were clear, insightful, and informed. Discussion was spirited and robust. Selecting conference awards was not easy. Nor was it easy to decide which papers to include in the present volume.

President's Awards

President's Awards honor student presentations that most clearly exemplify the standards and ideals of the conference. For 1998, these awards were presented to (alphabetic order):

  • Daniel Bristol (SUNY Oneonta)
  • Kevin Goetz (SUNY Oneonta)
  • John Hartmann (Alfred University)
  • Litia Perta (Vassar College)
  • Amanda Joy Schwarz (SUNY Oneonta)
  • Clinton Tolley (Wheaton College)

Ninash Foundation East-West Awards

East-West Awards honor student presentations that exhibit special expertise and insight in Asian and Comparative Philosophy. For 1998, these awards were presented to (alphabetic order):

  • Daniel Bristol (SUNY Oneonta)
  • Meghan Tadel (George Washington University)

Spirit of Conference Awards

Spirit of Conference Awards honor students who contribute to the conference in diverse, sometimes unexpected ways. Special consideration is given to contributions that enhance the academic, intellectual, and positive social atmosphere of the conference. For 1998, these awards were presented to (alphabetic order):

  • Daniel Bristol (SUNY Oneonta)

  • Kevin Goetz (SUNY Oneonta)

  • Amanda Joy Schwarz (SUNY Oneonta)

Kerri Lynn Nicholas Heart and Soul Awards

Named in honor of an alumna who helped found the conference, Kerri Lynn Nicholas Heart and Soul Awards provide special recognition to those who have made truly exceptional, lasting contributions to the conference. In 1998, the inaugural award was presented to:

  • Kerri Lynn Nicholas

    to honor her foundational role in the creation of the SUNY Oneonta Undergraduate Philosophy Conference, and to recognize her tireless commitment to the planning and conduct of the 1996, 1997, and 1998 conferences.

A second Heart and Soul Award was presented to:

  • Amanda Joy Schwarz
    to honor her pioneering role as the first student chair of the conference planning committee.

Other Awards

The English Club presented awards to papers with literary themes. Specifically, the award for The Best Philosophy Paper with Historical Literary Themes went to:

  • Amy Katrin Ferrara (SUNY Oneonta)

The award for The Best Philosophy Paper with Overall Literary Excellence was presented to:

  • Gary Jay Schwenk (Nazareth College)

Editing the conference proceedings continues to be a labor of love. On the one hand, the project demands far more time and attention to detail than I had originally intended. On the other hand, the students with whom I have worked—from other institutions as well as from SUNY Oneonta—have been sources of joy, inspiration, and delight.

A formal list of acknowledgments follows the student preface. Still, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to thank my family (Barbara, Callie, and Sterling) for their patience, encouragement, and support. I also owe a special note of appreciation to Gary Hardcastle and Jere Surber, our keynote speakers, for gracing our conference with their presence, their insights, and their infectious enthusiasm. I am especially grateful to them for allowing us the honor of including their presentations in the proceedings.

Without the assistance of faculty, staff, and administrators here at Oneonta, neither the conference nor this volume would be possible: thank you. Perhaps less obviously, without the editorial assistance of the 1998/1999 Undergraduate Conference Committee I would still be poring over manuscripts, searching for errant commas or misplaced computer codes: special thanks to Morgan Brenner, Daniel Bristol, Meghan Callahan, Kevin Curran, Howard Fitzpatrick, Gotti Jicha, Denise Nicoletti, Keith Reischmann, George Savvas, and—especially—Cindy Budka.

Douglas W. Shrader
Oneonta, New York

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