Philosophy and History of Ideas Research

My interest in policy analysis has always been driven by an attempt to understand how public policy shapes the lives of citizens as well as my wonder at how mathematical models can teach us anything at all about something as complex as human behavior.

After graduating from a Great Books school, St. John’s College (SF 03), I studied Philosophy and the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh.  During my time there, I worked on Aristotle, Kant and Hegel, while I also took graduate level courses in Physics to further my understanding of Classical Mechanics and Electromagnetism.  As I learned more about the emergence of modern thought, I became increasingly interested in the different ways in which ancient and modern thinkers approached the relationship between mathematics and the natural world.  In particular, I found myself fascinated by how successful contemporary physics seems to be at mathematizing nature.  Is the world nothing more than a mathematical structure of some sort?  This led me to consider cases where the application of mathematics to the natural world was less straightforward, and more heavily dotted with caveats such as “this is only a model” or “other things being equal”.

Around this time, I took up teaching Philosophy courses in Nevada while my wife worked on her English PhD.  As I taught, I also started to study the ways in which economists used these sorts of well-caveated mathematical techniques.  As I studied Economics and thought about the mathematization of nature, I also grew increasingly interested in questions about public policy, especially where it has implications for discussions about political economy and the role of government – What are the effects of raising the minimum wage? What are the effects of lowering interest rates?

My path never struck me as odd.  To the contrary, my experience as a post-graduate student involved in fields that are customarily estranged has confirmed for me that all fields of human learning are interconnected.

My research in Philosophy and the History of Thought has concerned the tradition of Aristotelian thought, German Idealism, and the development of 19th Century mathematics.   I have published on the Aristotelian work the “Mechanical Problems” as well as Aquinas’ Third Way and Husserl.   I have also published translations of 19th century mathematicians such Cauchy, Weierstrass, Reimann and Lebesgue.  See my CV for details.