Loyola University Chicago

Arrupe College

Aisha Raees

Title: Lecturer, Philosophy
Degrees: BA, Hanover College; MA, Southern Illinois University Carbondale; PhD, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan
Courses taught: Philosophy & Persons, Ethics, and Philosophy & Society

What attracted you to Arrupe College?

From the moment I read about Arrupe, I was inspired. Meeting the faculty here during my interview process really sealed the deal. Here, I feel I am in a place where having a true concern for education is both felt and enacted earnestly, passionately, and creatively. I firmly believe that social justice is at the heart of my motivation for teaching or studying philosophy and I wanted to work in an environment that both respected and nurtured this sentiment. Arrupe lives its mission. I find this to be courageous given the political climate we are in, especially in the city we are in, and I am completely on board.

Talk a little about the classes you teach.

It is hard to teach and to study philosophy. Not only because the content is challenging at times, but because the questions we ask seem to be irrelevant to our day to day lives. Education has to walk this balance of allowing our minds to wander but also to keep intact a link and concern for problems in our world that need solving. We take up complex texts and questions but break them down so that we can see these two ends clearly. I believe that philosophy is extremely practical when understood both as giving us intimate self-knowledge but also as granting tools so we can be productive in our world. This is why I aim to make space for quiet reflection as well dynamic interaction in a safe and respectful space.

How did you get involved in teaching philosophy?

The simple answer is that I sought to teach philosophy because I study it. Teaching for me is a natural counterpart of being philosophical: it is my way of being of consequence in my world. When I started graduate school for philosophy I did not know what I would do with that knowledge, just that I wanted it. The conversations one has in graduate school are rare in a regular environment and this bothered me. I truly believe that studying philosophy gives us a way of thinking that changes the way we approach the world. I wanted to be a part of that process for others. That’s why I got involved in teaching.

What’s your favorite part about teaching? And the biggest challenge?

My favorite part about teaching is that it is always surprising. It challenges my own sense of what a passage or philosopher means, for instance. The myriad ways in which students help me see the world differently, is an unexpected blessing that I cherish. The hardest part about teaching is seeing students give up or shut down. I struggle with students that have walked away from being curious; it is a very difficult thing to see and then, unravel. In the end, however, I have hope that a good idea, with some persistence on my part, has the power to break down the toughest apathy. Teaching for me, then, is most magical when it is most difficult; it delivers the possibility for transformation unlike any other vocation.