Barry McNamara  |   Published March 22, 2017

Why philosophy?

Reinig ’18 uses discipline for self-improvement, hopes to mentor others as professor
  • It didn’t take long during his time on campus for Carlin Reinig ’18 of Hamilton, Ill., to realize he wants to become a philosophy professor.
Since before he enrolled at Monmouth College, Carlin Reinig ’18 of Hamilton, Ill., has known he wanted to study philosophy.

It didn’t take long during his time on campus for Reinig to realize he enjoyed the subject so much that he wants to become a philosophy professor.

“I’m a first-generation college student,” said Reinig. “So my journey wasn’t as structured as some other students.”

Reinig chose Monmouth, in large part, because of a number of alumni connections, including some of his teachers and the boss at his first job. His experiences as a Monmouth student helped him discover a career path.

“I was involved in ASAP (the Association for Student Activity Programming) my freshman year, and I’ve been involved in student government throughout my time at Monmouth,” said Reinig, who was named Blue Key’s Freshman Man of the Year in 2015. “I’m involved in Greek life, and I’m the president of my fraternity (Zeta Beta Tau). All of those leadership experiences have helped me see that what I really want to do is mentor students. As a professor, I’ll be able to do that, and to especially help first-generation students. I’d like to be able to pass on the help that was given to me.”

Reinig traces his enjoyment of philosophy to when he was in high school. On his own, he studied the Chinese tradition Daoism. That’s not the only time he’s done scholarly work for no academic credit. Last fall, he wrote a play for the College’s FusionFest event, which will be published in this year’s issue of Coil, the College’s literary magazine.

Asked to philosophize on philosophy, Reinig makes a convincing argument.

“I think philosophy is critical of the society in which you’re living,” he said. “It also stresses self-criticism, pushing you to think more clearly and to write more concisely.”

Within the discipline, Reinig has gone the extra mile, taking not just the required two but all three courses in the College’s history of philosophy series. That includes this semester’s “Contemporary Philosophy” course, which he says he’s taking “to get caught up on what’s going on around me” in the discipline.

He is also conducting an independent study titled “Nietzsche and Freedom,” writing a series of papers that will build to a final project by the close of the semester.

“The College’s philosophy department does a really great job of getting students prepared, with a well-rounded education,” said Reinig. “They allow us to pursue our interests and our own passions. My own journey has been greatly affected.”

Reinig said he has especially fond memories of his “Existentialism” class.

“It was a seminar-style course, with high-quality students,” he said. “As you were in the class, you could tell it was a special thing. The professor and the students were relating perfectly, and we had some great discussions.”

Outside the major, Reinig likes to explore the College’s liberal arts offerings, delving into sociology, psychology and English. One of his favorite courses was “Creative Nonfiction,” which he said “taught me to write about myself in a balanced way – to not build myself up too much or be too modest. I’m sure it will be useful for my graduate school applications.”

Reinig said some philosophy students wait to attend graduate school, but he hopes to begin the process right after his graduation and work toward a Ph.D.

“I’ve heard the job market isn’t that great right now in philosophy, but I’m not going to let that slow me down,” he said.

# # #

Monmouth College’s annual Samuel M. Thompson Memorial Lecture will be given March 28. After graduating from Monmouth in 1924 with a degree in English, Thompson earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University. One of the College’s legendary professors, he taught philosophy at Monmouth for 46 years. Most notable among his publications were two popular textbooks: A Modern Philosophy of Religion and The Nature of Philosophy. Thompson died in 1983.

Sustainable agriculture advocate Michael Ableman will deliver the Thompson Lecture at 7 p.m. in the Morgan Room of the College’s Poling Hall.
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