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CIE Researcher of Distinction, November 2013

Amir Jaima

Each month, the Center for Inclusive Education showcases the outstanding research being conducted by one of our talented scholars in our Research Cafe series. In addition, we recognize this scholar as a Researcher of Distinction and share the details of their journey to becoming an accomplished scholar. This month's Researcher of Distinction is Amir Jaima, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy. Amir presented his talk, "Questionable Form: an inquiry into the relationship between philosophy and literature" on Friday, November 8, 2013. 
Amir's Background
Amir was born in St. Johns Antigua, a small island in the West Indies. He grew up in Antigua, enjoying an idyllic island childhood, literally having a beach in his backyard. At 13 years old, he moved to New Hampshire to live with his grandmother. He attended Dublin School, a small boarding school in Dublin, New Hampshire. Amir adjusted to his life in the United States by retreating into his studies. After high school, he attended Swarthmore College and became interested in philosophy when he discovered how useful its intellectual tools were for engaging the world around him. His undergraduate research experience involved him working independently under professors who did research in his areas of interest, which were Moral Philosophy and Social and Political Philosophy.

In his spare time, he enjoys many types of sports and outdoor activities. He is a third degree black belt in Don Jitsu Ryu. He also plays basketball and soccer. In the winter, he likes to snowboard. He also plays the guitar.

Amir's Current Research
Describe the work you will be presenting for your Research Café.
At the Research Café, I will present an overview of my dissertation work. As we will see, I discuss a few classic philosophical texts and a few novels. I will argue that they function in similar ways, philosophically and literarily, and thus should be evaluated and produced with similar considerations in mind. 
Are there any other projects that you are currently working on?
I have a literary project that examines the relationship between scientific explanations and mythology.
What was the deciding factor for you to come to Stony Brook for your graduate studies?
First of all, the Stony Brook philosophy department is excellent, especially in Continental Philosophy, a stylistic tradition toward which my research is inclined. Second, the philosophy doctoral program is designed, not only to cultivate researchers, but also to create qualified teachers; this is an underappreciated strength of a graduate program. And finally, though Stony Brook is primarily a research institution, the faculty is very supportive of students. For these reasons, Stony Brook was an obvious choice for me.
What are your future goals?
My immediate goals include graduating and getting a job! My longer-term goals include adapting my dissertation into a book, and also working on one of my ideas for a novel.
What do you enjoy most about research?
I enjoy the freedom and creativity. I enjoy the fact that Philosophy is inherently inter-disciplinary; the entire world is relevant material. For example, the events surrounding the Higgs-boson raise philosophical questions about evidence, proof, and scientific truth and method, and indirectly the relationship between nature and the ultimately anthropocentric idea of God. The government shutdown becomes a question in social and political philosophy, and philosophy of law. Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke become questions in ethics and feminism. And Malala Yousafzia raises philosophical questions pertaining to feminism, war, protest, and education.
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