Alumni network

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Benjamin Parker
BA 2014
Sports journalist/teacher

Further education I completed a single subject teaching credential program at San Jose State (English).

Favorite courses at Berkeley Philosophy of Mind, Aesthetics, Spinoza, and Plato were among my favorite courses.

Favorite professors Niko Kolodny, Alva Noë, Geoffrey Lee, Tim Crockett, and Klaus Corcilius.

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? Philosophy taught me how to write and critically think. As a sports journalist, those are two skills that you really need. It's also helped me craft interesting questions to athletes and coaches. I've found it to be one of the best majors to study for journalism. UC Berkeley's philosophy department did a fantastic job preparing me. In education, I feel like I've been able to better connect with the students I've taught because of the great professors I had at UC Berkeley. A lot of the methods they used with me have been effective with my students as well. Lastly, since graduation, I've found an interest in studying Asian languages: Chinese and Japanese. I think studying symbolic logic has really helped with that as logic introduced me to reading symbolic based languages, which is the foundation of both Chinese and Japanese writing due to all the characters that they use. That's been a fun connection to see as well.

Email ben.parker406@berkeley.edu

Web https://stanford.rivals.com

Michael Cassady
BA 1972
This is a question worth some serious thought—a work of promises.

Further education For life-support, I worked in industry, but I continued to read philosophy when conditions and energy would permit. I was unable to get reading materials through customs in Saudi Arabia; in a bookstore I passed selling romantic fiction for women in Al Kobar (nothing at all graphic), I wondered why all the women were dressed in black evening gowns that covered arms and legs. Closer inspection showed that the standard black was magic-marker covering any exposed skin. In Singapore, I saw the film Chinatown and was baffled by it for years after, until I happened to see it again and realized that all the scenes that had anything to do with incest had been cut out. Travel per se as education by direct experience is disappointing since, as one might expect, getting past what reflects light in experience, i.e., what accounts for the form of observed content, leads an observer to the realization that he understands little, or wrongly, what is causally happening. At some point, I was driven to the conclusion that my employers were robbing me of the best hours of my days and the best years of my life. I had left UCB with the thought I might return to do graduate work or law after a break from the general state of chaotic agitation on, and all around the 1970's social-action campus. Instead of returning to higher education, I ended up living twenty years in France.

Favorite courses at Berkeley I have mostly been able to follow the courses of Mike Martin recently. I sat in on Barry Stroud's courses on perception, knowledge and mind. Barry was very kind with over-the-hill groupies happily lost far away from a golf course. I continue to see a hole in space where Barry lacks matter but not energy.

Favorite professors Mike Martin, John Campbell, Burt Dreyfus, Katharina Kaiser, Hannah Ginsborg, Hans Sluga, John MacFarlane. These are persons I have had some contact with.

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? Even if I did not follow a career path in academic philosophy, since returning to Berkeley in 2011 at age 65, I have come to appreciate more than I anticipated the work of the kind professors who permit me to audit courses and seminars. A graduate seminar with Mike Martin, John Campbell or Barry Stroud provided enough follow up reading for a whole year.

Any current engagement with philosophy? I certainly continue to challenge my thinking following new developments that have freed me somewhat from the seductive charm of Wittgenstein unconditioned by enriching nuance. That said, the role of seduction in philosophy explains why it's richer reading Plato putting words in Socrates' mouth than it is studying an assembly instructions for putting together a bed frame. Searle disappointed me somewhat—very edifyingly—when he refused to even hear me out about the great cost of assuming realism and a physical world composed of particles going about in fields of force. I'm more and more inclined to keep matter tied to energy: what is the case seems hopelessly abstract without considering where it is the case. I also keep thinking that biology imposed autonomy plays a much bigger role in experience than it is given credit for. But, I'm ready to be shocked once more into the realization I've missed something completely.

Email mikecassady23@gmail.com

Aaron Wasserman
BA 2018
Security Solutions Engineer

Favorite courses at Berkeley Ethics, Philosophy of Mind, Descartes, Nietzsche

Favorite professors Sluga, Kolodny, Searle

Email aaron.wasserman@berkeley.edu

Carmella Smith
BA 1985
software engineer

Favorite professors Samuel Shepherd, John Searle, Donald Davidson, Barry Stroud

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? excellent training in rigorous reasoning

Email cxssf@yahoo.com

Michael Slaker
BA 2008 MA 2013
Teacher, street ministry, non-profit/philanthropic work

Further education Masters in Theology (focus in Old Testament)

Favorite courses at Berkeley Philosophy of the Mind, Ethics, and Philosophy of Language.

Favorite professors Searle, Wallace, and MacFarlane.

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? Careful attention to how we use words. Thorough analysis of arguments both ones I pose and those offered by others. Better at reading and comprehending difficult texts.

Any current engagement with philosophy? My Masters in Theology is traditionally a branch of Philosophy. But also informally engaging in everyday conversations about God and the state of the world, in the Socratic tradition.

Email melkaashur@gmail.com

Web https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1239794

Further education Philosophy has broadly informed my own subsequent teaching of professional development courses, for example at UC Santa Cruz Extension and in the LLNL Education Program.

Favorite courses at Berkeley Philosophy and history of science, philosophy of mathematics

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? My Philosophy Ph.D. launched a satisfying, interdisciplinary, impactful career, first in user support and documentation at USDOE's National Energy Research Supercomputer Center, then as editor-in-chief of an international journal sponsored by a cross-disciplinary organization (Assoc. for Computing Machinery), and finally as leader of a social justice project that brings practical literacy skills to underperforming K-12 students through teacher workshops and online support.

Email trgirill@gmail.com

Web http://writeprofessionally.org/techlit/overview

Peter Speliopoulos
BA 1979
Marketing and communications (Marketing Manager, Industrial Internet of Things at Xerox PARC)

Favorite courses at Berkeley Philosophy of language; philosophy of mind; history of philosophy, particularly Spinoza; Hume; and later Wittgenstein)

Favorite professors John Searle; Wallace I. Matson; and Barry Stroud

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? More to come!

Any current engagement with philosophy? More to come!

Email speliopoulos@berkeley.edu

Web https://www.speliopoulos.com

Marc Heng
BA 1996
Retired

Further education MPA Harvard Kennedy School

Email marc@hengclan.com

Ann Ravel
BA 1970
Attorney (RAVEL LAW, Mediation and Counseling), Expert Witness

Further education Law Degree, Advanced courses in Mediation, and Negotiation

Favorite courses at Berkeley While I must admit that I don't remember the exact courses I took, I know that I cared deeply about logic, political philosophy, ethics, Wittgenstein, and phenomenology.

Favorite professors I can't recall most of my professors, but I remember John Searle as a favorite.

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? My Philosophical training was the best foundation that I could have to understand the law and ethics. I have been very involved in the highest levels of government, including as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Obama administration, the Chair of the Federal Election Commission, and the Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Philosophy made me aware of the importance of various ethical issues as well as the importance of analysis of issues and the ability to think about issues in new ways.

Any current engagement with philosophy? I have continued the study of philosophy by revisiting many of the books that I read as a student.

Web https://www.linkedin.com/in/annravel/

Steven Nathan McGannon, BA
BA 2017
Freelance writer; Student

Further education Cognitive Science, MA (University of Helsinki)

Favorite courses at Berkeley Chinese Philosophy, Spinoza, Theory of Meaning

Favorite professors Kwong-loi Shun, Timothy Crockett

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? I think about topics in philosophy every day.

Any current engagement with philosophy? I am currently working on a philosophically-oriented thesis in a Cognitive Science master's program at the University of Helsinki (Helsingin yliopisto).

Brian Mascarenhas
BA 2004
Technology Leader

Favorite courses at Berkeley Philosophy of the Mind and Aristotle

Favorite professors John Searle and a visiting professor whose name I no longer remember who taught a class on Aristotle

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? Philosophy gave me a broader perspective for viewing the world, and also set into focus which problems deserved more attention.

Any current engagement with philosophy? I read a lot and in a wide variety.

Email brian@brianmascarenhas.com

Brice Lemke
BA 2002
Data Scientist

Further education As a result of a serious illness, I had to leave Berkely and spent three months at UCSF. That experience increased my interest in health care. I received a BSN from UCSF after healing and specialized in wound and ostomy care. When I was unable to work I want back to UCB and received an MBA and an MPH in 1984 - which was, for me, a mistake since that was not where my heart was.

Favorite courses at Berkeley Hubert Dreyfus changed my life with Husserl, Kierkegaard, and the Nazi professor Martin Heidegger. Paul Feyerabend married science and philosophy and it helped me to understand that even the truths by which we choose to live have their own pitfalls.

Favorite professors Hubert Dreyfus, Paul Feyerabend, and the philosophers of the Vienna Circle - there was a wonderful professor who was close to Moritz Schlick and I cannot recall his name - So Logical Positivism was also something that kept me going as well.

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? My philosophical training has meant a great deal to me. It influcenced my approach to patient care (which is to be human and not hide behind a stethascope), it helped me to work with hospice patients such that life and death were always at the edges of everything. I felt that sharing space with those who are dying can be a very good service and a source of enormous gratitude. I'm a lucky guy cause I took philosophy - and it appears that I have managed to survive my death ... so far.

Any current engagement with philosophy? I almost always continue to read philosophy. I am most involved in the ethics of health care and normally read medical journals relating to life and death decisions. But my interests go further. For me, great literature is often great philosophy. I read the Man Without Qualities twice, completed all of Proust, and I am now focusing on the philosophy of the stoicism.

Email valterescu@gmail.com

Dominic Lusinchi
BA 1973
Retired independent social research consultant and instructor at UCB Extension

Further education Ph.D. Sociology, University of Paris, Paris VIII: Vincennes-Saint-Denis; Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies, Sociology, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris; Diploma, Sociology, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris

Favorite courses at Berkeley History and philosophy of science

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? Provided a broad training in research and writing and introduced me to a wide range of thinkers. It allowed me to find a more specialized field of study: sociology.

Any current engagement with philosophy? Peripherally. For instance, if I am studying a topic in sociology (e.g., emotions) which has also been studied by philosophers (e.g., Sartre).

Email dominicl@berkeley.edu

Web http://www.farwestresearch.com/staff/dl/dlcv.html

Further education J.D.

Favorite courses at Berkeley Heidegger taught by Professor Hubert Dreyfus Wittgenstein taught by Professor Barry Stroud

Email amir.khedmati@berkeley.edu

Web https://cal.berkeley.edu/khedmati

Further education Physics and architecture

Favorite courses at Berkeley Philosophy of Mind, Logic, Existentialism…

Favorite professors George Myro & John Searle

Email cherylhoppe@berkeley.edu

Web http://bar-or.com/

Erick Bautista
BA 2014
Operations Manager and Controller

Further education Certificates in Data Science and Project Management

Favorite courses at Berkeley 12A Intro to Logic Intro to Modal Reasoning Intermediate Logic Plato

Favorite professors Holliday and Mancosu

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? I view business and management as applied philosophy. Profits are a logical consequence of having the right systems in place. Business is also fundamentally normative. Ethical dilemmas left and right. The logic and critical thinking skills I learned through the philosophy program play a major role in how I view the world and live my life. I'm till searching for Eudaimonia.

Any current engagement with philosophy? I still pursue self study on a regular basis. I usually have a philosophical book or two open at any given time.

Email ekbautista@gmail.com

Forrest Ponsot
BA 2020
English Teacher

Further education Master's in Critical Pedagogy

Favorite courses at Berkeley Heidegger, Hume, Ethical Theories, Ancient... I'm sure there are others!

Favorite professors Michael Martin, Timothy Crockett, Katharina Kaiser, Hans Sluga, R. Jay Wallace

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? With philosophy, I feel as though I'm continually caught in a trance of worldly wonder. There is so much that I don't know, things I will never know (like how to pay off student loans!), and so much to be gained through the pursuit itself. I thank philosophy for its ability to consistently illuminate my life and place into new light that which is often ordinary.

Any current engagement with philosophy? I am currently completing a master's program in critical pedagogy, which requires continued study of critical theory and the Frankfurt School of thought. But I think most of my engagement with philosophy is an informal re-engagement with previous books, papers, and intellectual figures!

Email im_confused@berkeley.edu

Favorite professors John Searle

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? In the midst of an aerospace engineering career, I pursued a prior interest in artificial intelligence to become a practitioner of AI. This proved interesting as a practical test to add to my understanding of the philosophical issues of minds and machines.

Any current engagement with philosophy? Followed the more popular books on philosophy of mind (Nagel, Dennett, Searle, Alva Noe).

Email peter.fargo@alum.calberkeley.org

Cameron MacKenzie
BA 2011
Public Defender

Further education Law

Favorite courses at Berkeley Heidegger, Nietzsche, Later Wittgenstein

Favorite professors Hubert Dreyfus, Hans Sluga, Barry Stroud

Email cameron.jcmackenzie@gmail.com

Todd Pitcher
BA 1992
Managing Partner, ECCO Advisors

Further education Post grad studies - UCSB and Claremont Graduate School

Favorite courses at Berkeley Philo of Mind and Language courses with Searle Epistemology courses with Stroud Heidegger / Nietzsche with Dreyfus and Matson Seminars - all of them

Favorite professors Enjoyed them all.

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? Priceless and foundational to the work I do on a daily basis.

Any current engagement with philosophy? Member of APA and actively engaged in attendance of philosophy, economics and political theory conferences wherever and whenever I can attend.

Email tpitcher@aspirecleantech.com

Perry Lee, BA
BA 2009
Director of Engineering

Favorite courses at Berkeley In no particular order: Ancient Philosophy, Chinese Philosophy, and Ethical Theories

Further education MBA, MAI Designation, Appraisal Institute, Real Estate Broker's License

Favorite courses at Berkeley I enjoyed Philosophy of Religion and Politics, Ethics and Aesthetics. I developed a lifelong interest in Existentialism and the quest for issues of right and wrong, good and evil on the bedrock of random chance.

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? The Philosophy Program had a great deal of influence on my world views. In brief, it opened my mind to a willingness to question and to learn. It provided a measure of discipline for my curiosity. With fresh eyes, I looked at others' beliefs as well as my personal, core choices. I learned to define meaningful questions for many applications regardless of subject. I would suggest that selected classes in philosophy be a requirement for graduation. Philosophy courses became a foundation for my spiritual atheism and the exploration of chance and Existentialism as a state of nature.

Any current engagement with philosophy? My love of philosophy will be with me until I die. As a member of the Benjamin Ide Wheeler Society, I plan on supporting the Philosophy Department after my death. I continue reading and discussing philosophical issues with several book clubs. It is a pleasure and delight to share ideas with others.

Email Robmhodies@gmail.com

Eric Wasiolek
BA 1984
Retired from Computer Industry -- Systems Engineering/Product Management

Further education Masters Thesis Computational Biology Stanford, 2008 Master of Science, Cal State East Bay, Computational Biology 2008 MBA Cal State East Bay 2011 Doctorate in Computer Science, Colorado Technical University 2018

Favorite courses at Berkeley Philosophy of Mind. I am particularly interested in the Mind/Body problem or problem of psychophysical reduction and reductionism in science in general.

Favorite professors Searle. I took Philosophy of Mind with him where he taught his book on Intentionality. Klaus Strelau, a Philosophy PhD student who became my friend and mentor.

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? Philosophy taught me how to think rigorously and systematically on any topic. Hence it was useful in learning and mastering computer software and hardware systems (as well as a year of Symbolic Logic). Rigorous writing skills allowed me to publish many articles in Computer Magazines.

Any current engagement with philosophy? Not formally. Continue to write my Philosophical Papers on a wide range of philosophical topics. See my website for sample writings.

Email ericwasiolek@gmail.com

Web http://www.ericwasiolek.com/Philosophy.htm

Further education BPhil in Philosophy at the University of Oxford

Favorite courses at Berkeley Modal Logic and Philosophy of Language.

Favorite professors John MacFarlane, Wesley Holliday, Seth Yalcin, and Timothy Crockett.

How has your philosophical training influenced your life and career? John Campbell once said that philosophy is thinking in slow motion. Learning how to think in slow motion helped me see the force of certain arguments, see subtle errors in them, and make clear distinctions. These skills are tremendously beneficial; they made me more charitable, able to decipher what a person is arguing or asserting, and thereby made my own views more robust and thoughtful.

Any current engagement with philosophy? I pursued a master's degree in philosophy.

Yuanshan Li
BA 2021
Philosophy PhD Student

Further education I moved to University of Notre Dame to further studying logic and philosophy of science.

Favorite professors John MacFarlane, Paolo Mancosu, Wes Holliday, Hannah Ginsborg, Michael Nylan

Email tom_lee@berkeley.edu