This is the first installment in our Philosophy Alumni Interview Series.
INTERVIEW BY MAIA BERNICK
Professor Rob Colter graduated from Puget Sound in 1992. Originally a pre-med student, he became interested in Philosophy after taking a class in the honors program. He received an M.A. in Classics from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Northwestern. He is now an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wyoming. His primary work is in ancient philosophy but he also has interests in contemporary analytic epistemology and metaphysics.
His advice to majors?
Do what you love!
How did people react to you being a Philosophy major?
I got a fair bit of the “so, are you going to teach?” response. I think I was fortunate, however, that I have an uncle who is a professor of philosophy, so my family had some idea of where I might be headed.
What was your favorite Philosophy class and why?
I would have to say two. The first was Professor Cannon’s Philosophical Analysis class. We read a good number of central works in twentieth century philosophy, and I remember I researched issues in set theory for my term paper. The second is when I had the opportunity to be the teaching assistant for Professor Cannon’s logic courses.
How has being a Philosophy Major impacted your life?
Given that I have made a career out of it, I think it was absolutely essential, for obvious reasons. In every way, philosophy has permeated my life. In elementary school, my son once described my job as a “professional arguer,” and he’s not far off!
Are there any memories of being a Philosophy major that stand out?
One that stands out is translating Plato’s Parmenides on the roof of the tower of Jones Hall (where the department was located in my day) with Bill Barry. Defending my Honors Thesis also stands out.
Did you have anything else you’d like to add?
Bill Beardsley once told me that doing philosophy as a career is a “really strange life.” We “work” all day thinking of things that most people think are really strange. While that’s certainly true, I prefer to think of it as “wonderful.” He also told me never to tell anyone in a bar that you are a philosopher. That was probably also good advice.
If you are interested in learning more about Professor Colter or Philosophy, you can contact him via email at rcolter – at – uwyo.edu