By Daniel Silliman
The hot topic at Clayton State University this weekend might be "human nature." It might be applying a 17th century Englishman's theories about ethics to today's suicide bombers, or it might be the role of women in ancient Greek philosophy.
All these topics are on the table at the university's first philosophy conference this weekend.
The school's philosophy program, which is "new, new, new," according to professor Ron Jackson, has started the "Southeastern Philosophy Conference," bringing in students to present and discuss papers on a wide array of philosophical topics.
The conference, said professor Alex Hall, will give students a chance to interact with their peers at other schools, something that's uncommon at the undergraduate level.
"It's a chance for the students of Clayton to share their research on the national level," Hall said. "It's good for them to measure up their own research. It gives them valuable experience if they choose to pursue the field of philosophy."
Students from as far away as Oregon and Michigan are scheduled to present papers on Saturday, and four Clayton State students are presenting.
Michael Hobgood, of McDonough, will be reading his paper, "Boots on the (Philosophical) Ground: Human Nature According to a Soldier." Hobgood, who served with the 82nd Airborne, said he's feeling "a little bit out of my element, presenting papers on philosophy," but is looking forward to a new, challenging experience.
His paper is on experiences, he said, and how we respond to those experiences.
"There's no set human nature, so there's just a question of what do we do with the experiences we have," said Hobgood, who studied medieval and modern philosophy and compared it with his own combat experience, in writing the paper.
"We don't have a nature of good or evil," he said. "We're just sort of there. We have the capacity for both, but we have to choose."
Other Clayton State students scheduled to present papers include:
Ryan Larosa, of McDonough, "On American Foreign Policy: Non-Intervention, an American Tradition."
Robert Case, of Stockbridge, "On the Nature of God."
Anna King, of Jonesboro, on "Problems with Secured Boundaries for Women in Book V of Plato's Republic."
The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m., to 5 p.m., Saturday Feb. 16, and will be located in University's James M. Baker Center on the second floor. Registration costs $15, which also covers the cost of lunch.