Sophia Rothman, Age 14
Linda Martín Alcoff is a professor of philosophy at Hunter University. She has written four books, the most recent being “Rape and Resistance,” which was published in 2017.
Sophia Rothman: Why did you choose to become a philosopher?
Linda Martín Alcoff: I was always interested in the big questions of life, like where did the universe come from, why are we here, how should we live? My mother and I used to sit up and discuss these questions for hours. I did not know what philosophy was, but when I went to college I took a philosophy class and found out that it was about what human beings had said and thought about these questions over thousands of years. I was hooked.
How would you describe a typical day at work?
I have a wonderful job! I get a salary for reading and thinking and writing and talking with others about very important questions. I do some of all of these things each day.
What’s one thing you hope your students learn from your class?
I hope they learn to think more slowly and carefully about what they really believe. It helps for them to know what other people have said and thought, and how many different possible views there are on the same topic. And I want to help them to find ways to defend their views to others, so they can be more persuasive.
What advice would you give to kids who wish to combat injustices in the world?
My advice is first to study what causes the injustice, and not to be surprised or frustrated if the answer is complicated and difficult. Ask people you respect and find books on the topic. Only when we truly understand can we take effective action. But then, we need to take action!