Carroll College, Helena Montana

Honors Thesis Abstracts

Honor Thesis Abstracts: Philosophy

Potestas Marci Aurelii: Cursus Philosophus (The Ruling Power of Marcus Aurelius: a Philosophical Journey) (2011)
Anna Wirth - Philosophy and Classical Studies, Honors Scholar Program

What is it that makes a man who he is? What causes him to make certain decisions-to take certain actions over others? The beliefs and values of a human being are the only reasons for which a free person will act. Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 AD, was aware of this fact, and sought to rule his conscious will with supreme Reason, the dispassionate thinking process through which decisions are made, in accordance to Nature. A free person is not ruled by emotions, and does not base decisions upon externals at all, but will always act according to his or her ruling Reason. Marcus sought to embody the true Philosopher, one whose Reason guided all and whose behaviour flowed from that rationality into the practical application of living. Being human, it is in his nature to live in communion with others and fulfill the duties for which he was born. His love for Philosophy, and his lifetime spent seeking after her, formed his potestás, or ruling power. This ruling power is over the self as well as over the world in which one lives. Humans are citizens of the world, and as citizens have duties to the world as a political realm. In order to actualize this human potential to its fullest, Marcus believed in doing his duty for Rome and also for himself. Marcus Aurelius' beliefs in Stoicism are reflected in all of his actions and musings, and are the foundation for his political rule and influence in Rome.

Situatedness and Art: Maurice: Merleau-Ponty on Perception,Aesthetics, and the Embodiment of Being (2014)
Taylor Peliska - Philosophy 

French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty is one of the 20th century’s greatest thinkers. Merleau-Ponty’s main philosophical concern is understanding how humans experience and perceive the world aroundthem. He grounds his thought in phenomenological inquiry and existential ontology, providing a rich understanding of what it means to be a human livingin the world. In his examination of the human situation in the world, Merleau-Ponty draws from art, in particular the work of French painter, Paul Cézanne, in outlining a theory of aesthetics that brings to light our being in the world as an embodied individual who is immersed in it, not outside of it. In my paper I explore the various implications of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, paying specific attention to his aesthetic theory and how this perspective unveils a new un derstanding of what it means to be human living and existing in the world.