Sarah Hirschfield

Philosophy, Class of 2020

I’m a Philosophy major.

Role(s) held in the Humanistic Studies Program:

Behrman Society

Activities on campus:

The Daily Princetonian, Law Review, Powerlifting

Why I decided to study the humanities:

When I was in high school, I read an excerpt from Immanuel Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals and thought he got a lot of things wrong. It turns out I wasn’t the only person to think that, and there were a lot of scholars who could articulate objections in ways I couldn’t even fathom doing myself. I started reading more broadly and found that the world was full of smart people who could say exactly what you were thinking in just the right words, and that reading these works was extremely gratifying (in a full-bodied way) and affirming and overall a desirable consequence of a quick, benign activity (i.e. reading). I realize there is no single path to the humanities—some study it for more, well, humanitarian reasons, others for more self-enriching ones—and that’s the beauty of it.

What I have gained from the humanities:

Studying the humanities can help you begin to answer those nagging existential questions that haunt you in your dreams or during the last five minutes of a three-hour seminar. But if the humanities were no more than an a tool for indulgence, there would be little noble about studying it. Studying Paradise Lost or On Liberty can surely contribute to the development of your intellectual character (as they did for me), but, more importantly, they pushed me to think about myself and others in new (read: better) ways, and, most importantly, to bring me to action in an effort to use the humanities to better the world it makes claims about.

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