1st Student's Major


1st Student's College

Arts and Humanities

Students' Professional Biography

Erik Berquist is a student majoring in Philosophy, with a minor in Political Science at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He’s been actively involved in the Philosophy club as both President and Vice President. During the Spring semester of 2004 Erik started a club devoted to reading and discussing the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. In Spring 2005 the first class devoted to Immanuel Kant was offered at Mankato State University, as a response to interest expressed in the topic by students. Currently Erik is preparing applications for grad school while researching for his senior thesis which will likely cover Kierkegaard’s work Concluding Unscientific Postscripts. Derek Skillings is a student in the Open Studies program at MSU, Mankato; he is concentrating his studies in biology, chemistry and philosophy. He is very active with research in both the biology and philosophy of departments at MSU, Mankato and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. His research interests include near-shore marine communities, phylogeography, and philosophy of biology and language. He is currently applying for graduate studies in marine biology with goal of a PhD.

Mentor's Name

Craig B. Matarrese

Mentor's Email Address


Mentor's Department


Mentor's College

Arts and Humanities


Charles Taylor, Carl Elliot, Alexis De Tocqueville, and Lionel Trilling have presented and critically analyzed a number of ideals that animate currents in contemporary American Culture, which include authenticity, sincerity, pluralism, subjectivism, and self-actualization, but these ideals do not harmoniously coexist; rather, they inevitably conflict. These notions have been realized in a way that is unique in their current understandings. Though there is the appearance of some homogeneity amongst these themes, they inevitably clash and contain internal tensions. The philosophers Kierkegaard and Nietzsche respond to many of the ideas that underlie these modern notions. Though differing in degrees, these critiques anticipate many of the problems that have arisen within discussion of contemporary culture. The themes that Taylor, Elliot, De Tocqueville, and Trilling outline are not limited to those notions that Kierkegaard and Nietzsche criticized. Rather, some cultural attitudes find their lineage in their respective philosophies. Both the historical tradition behind, and the contemporary definitions of these themes, need to be understood in order to explain the fragmented nature of contemporary culture. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche offer a historical perspective to the definitions given by Taylor, Elliot, and Trilling. Understanding the multifarious and contradictory foundations of contemporary culture is essential to demonstrating the potential paradox of realizing a consistent language of contemporary culture, and may include the inability to uphold these themes.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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