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Student Spotlight

The philosophy department student spotlight recognizes one student each month who has shown exemplary character and worked hard towards academic achievement.


October’s student spotlight is McKay Hammarstrom!

Originally from Yuba City, California, McKay came to BYU intending to study either classics or comparative literature. He ended up falling in love with philosophy and is now a philosophy major with Latin, Ancient Greek, and German minors. McKay is a very involved student, he has worked as a teaching assistant, research assistant, and was the chief editor for Aporia. He is also involved with the philosophy club and participates in a lot of informal ancient language reading groups on campus. Outside of school he enjoys reading, journaling, hiking, talking, and recently, weightlifting. McKay hopes to use his philosophy degree to live a virtuous life and understand the world around him. Everyone make sure to congratulate McKay for being this month's student spotlight!

Who is your favorite philosopher and why? Plato, with no close seconds, either. For one, he's philosophy's best and most original writer. In my opinion, Socrates' Great Speech in the Phaedrus is the best thing to come out of the ancient world, with the sole exception(s) of the Gospels. And for another, I think Plato was the first person in human history to clearly articulate what it meant to live an ethical (or even heroic) life. I think we're all indebted to him for that insight.

Favorite Plato quote? "That process is the recollection of the things our soul saw when it was traveling with God, when it disregarded the things we now call real and lifted up its head to what is truly real instead. For just this reason it is fair that only a philosopher's mind grows wings, since its memory always keeps it as close as possible to those realities by being close to which the gods are divine. A man who uses reminders of these things correctly is always at the highest, most perfect level of initiation, and he is the only one who is perfect as perfect can be. He stands outside human concerns and draws close to the divine; ordinary people think he is disturbed and rebuke him for this, unaware that he is possessed by god." Phaedrus 249c-d

Favorite spot on campus? Tough one. But probably the library, second and fifth floors.

What are you currently reading? The Brothers Karamazov, Supreme Power: Roosevelt vs the Supreme Court, and the Odyssey. I also just started X-Wing: The Bacta War.

Favorite philosophy class you’ve taken and why? Phil 350R: Contemporary Political Theory. Dr. Mower is a spellbinding lecturer and this class was no exception. But I especially loved it because political philosophy still remains my favorite branch of philosophy.

What is your dream job?: I want to be the US Solicitor General. Not only do they get to represent the US in the supreme court, but they also get to be called "general" by everyone else. Doesn't get much better than that.