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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Philosophy Student Wins Statewide Essay Contest

Knox College student Nat Klaung '16 won the Illinois Philosophical Association Undergraduate Student Essay Contest

by Elise Goitia '18

Nat Klaung '16, a philosophy major and a creative writing minor, was picked as the winner for the Illinois Philosophical Association Undergraduate Student Essay Contest against undergraduate students throughout the state.

Along with a cash prize of $100, Klaung presented his winning philosophy essay at IPA's annual conference. At the fall conference, speakers covered a variety of philosophical disciplines, and commentators provided feedback for every paper presented within a given field.

"I've never presented anything before, so this is very new for me," Klaung said shortly after learning he'd won the essay contest. "It's exciting. It's nerve-racking, but exciting, definitely."

The IPA Conference took place November 13-14 at the Department of Philosophy at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

Klaung originally wrote his essay, titled "Marking the Difference Between Immanent and Transcendent Aesthetic Experiences" for his Philosophy of Religion course during the 2015 winter term. It delves into the topic of mystical responses to artwork.

"My paper is trying to figure out why some people have spiritually transcendent experiences of artwork and why some people have immanently mystical experiences of artwork," explained Klaung. "I don't know if my paper answers the question, but perhaps it will help someone answer the question in the future."

Klaung attributes his award to his advisor, Brandon Polite, Knox College assistant professor of philosophy, and the Department of Philosophy at Knox.

"I wasn't a really strong writer when I first came to Knox," said Klaung. "I came here and was shocked to find out that I wasn't as good of a writer as I thought I was. I think I'm not the only person that's had that experience. But Brandon made sure to really give me a shot."

"The philosophy department totally changed the way that I think, and it totally changed my writing," he added. "It's very diverse, very fascinating. It really pushes the limits of what's accepted, and I think that's super-motivating."

(Photo at top: Nat Klaung '16, at right, holds his award certificate while standing beside Assistant Professor of Philosophy Brandon Polite.)

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Printed on Sunday, July 14, 2024