Newfoundland neighbourliness meets the philosophical examination of communications, language and altruism in this year’s Rothermere Fellowship winner, Raymond Critch.
The prestigious fellowship will allow Mr. Critch, who is currently finishing his master’s in philosophy at Memorial, to pursue doctoral studies at a university in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Critch is interested in the question of whether people are more altruistic towards others than has generally been assumed in modern political philosophy. He believes the simple fact that people communicate can be argued to be proof of this.
“My core intuition is that people are inherently good, that they are positively oriented toward one another,” he explained.
“I came to understand that this could be true by studying communication and language. In order for you to understand what I am saying, you have to put yourself in my place and figure out what my words mean to me. And for me to communicate to you, I have to put myself in your place, and understand what my words will mean to you.”
Mr. Critch, who has lived in rural, urban and suburban Newfoundland, says his approach to philosophy and ethics derives from his experiences of community in this province.
“We have a culture of neighbourliness that’s almost alien to the North American continent,” he explained. “In a sense, I am attempting to export one of Newfoundland’s most valuable resources our sense of community.”
Established by Memorial University’s first chancellor, Lord Rothermere, this generous trust will fund the full cost of Mr. Critch’s studies in the United Kingdom, and provide a yearly stipend and airfare to and from Canada. This annual award is currently valued at approximately £12,500 per annum, plus tuition fees.
The Rothermere Fellowship is given to an exceptional scholar who completed a first degree at Memorial. Mr. Critch studied history at Memorial from 1998-2002, and went on to complete law school at the University of New Brunswick before deciding to return to Memorial to pursue graduate studies in philosophy. He has not yet chosen which U.K. school he will attend. His ultimate goal is an academic career.