Çiçek Yavuz ‘22 arrived at Haverford with a background in STEM from her high school in Turkey, and a plan to major in cognitive science. However, after she was exposed to the teaching styles, research topics, and the wide array of courses in Haverford’s Philosophy Department, her interests changed. Now, the philosophy major, who also minored in German and German studies, is preparing to attend DePaul University for a six-year Ph.D. program in philosophy.
It was Professor and Chair of Philosophy Danielle Macbeth’s class, “Topics in the Philosophy of Mathematics,” that first shifted her interest to philosophy.
“I was really excited to see how philosophical methodologies enable us to see so deep into issues that I didn’t have the chance to in cognitive science, due to the limitation of empirical sciences in general,” she said. “I would say that Professor Macbeth’s courses were so fascinating that after three or so weeks into the semester, I decided that I would be a philosophy major. I went from not knowing any philosophy to declaring [a major], thanks to her wonderful teaching!”
In addition to Macbeth’s class, Yavuz found great intellectual fulfillment from Associate Professor of Philosophy Joel Yurdin’s class on Plato, the eventual topic of her senior thesis. She credits his teaching style and creative interpretations for helping her foster her interest in ancient metaphysics.
Yavuz was also inspired by the classes with Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy Benjamin Berger. She took three classes with him: “Idealism after Nihilism,” “Philosophy of Art,” and “Philosophy of Nature and the Human Animal.” Berger’s teaching introduced her to German idealism, and familiarized her with a proponent of its teachings, G.W.F. Hegel, who is now central to her own philosophical studies.
“Building on my coursework, I hope to focus on what Hegel’s Logic can tell us about the interaction between art and nature,” she said.
She thanked Berger for his unique and active teaching style, saying that his way of critically interrogating texts while staying true to them is valuable, helpful, and insightful.
“[Berger] is an extremely helpful resource in the department, because he makes sure everybody can develop their intuition into a full blown idea,” she said.
As Yavuz became more engaged with German idealism through Berger’s teaching, she too became more engaged with broader German Romantic tradition and philosophy through the classes of Margaret Strair, visiting assistant professor of German at Bryn Mawr College. Yavuz noted that Strair’s classes were some of the most meaningful experiences of intellectual growth she experienced.
“[Strair] encouraged me to look deeper into the subtle ways in which seemingly non-philosophical elements of a text can turn out to contain philosophy,” she said. “Her insights into the intersection between philosophy and literature have shaped my views immensely, and I would not have gotten my current perspective on art and philosophy if not for her amazing courses and office hours.”
Equipped with knowledge from her Bi-Co classes, Yavuz now heads to DePaul University, where she is excited to continue research into German philosophy and ancient metaphysics.
“In the history of philosophy, I hope to specialize in Post-Kantian German philosophy, particularly Hegel’s Science of Logic, and also focus on the Enlightenment era, Weimar Classicism, and German romanticism,” she said. “Thematically, I am interested in metaphysics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of nature.”
Yavuz chose DePaul due to the school’s comparative approach to philosophy. She liked that the school strives to break away from the prevailing modern, ahistorical perspective of philosophy, where people focus on broad themes, rather than interpreting the past and how ideas develop over time.
“I particularly like that DePaul faculty do not focus on one philosopher or one thematic issue only, and their approach is generally comparative,” she said. “Moreover, their approach does not at all seem presuppositional, in that they begin their inquiry with the very fundamentals (metaphysics).”
Yavuz aims to become a professor of philosophy, who studies aesthetics, the philosophy of nature, and metaphysics. She encourages everyone to try out classes that may not sound initially appealing at first, as that is what sparked her interest in her field and set her on her career path.
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series chronicling the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.