“It ruined my life.”
That’s how Raciel Cuevas ’15 describes his first philosophy class. He was a math major at a local community college, taking a general education requirement philosophy class. About halfway through the semester, he was hooked. “I left class with so many problems,” he says. “I realized I had been assuming so many things in my life that I’m not justified in assuming. I decided I had to go into philosophy.”
He transferred to Loyola Marymount University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. There, he developed an interest in aesthetics – the philosophy and values surrounding art and beauty – and specifically, the idea of ugliness.
“I want to come up with an account of ugliness,” Cuevas says. “Find out what ugliness is grounded on. Philosophy people say ugliness is not a real thing, but I think it is.” He is interested in critiquing aesthetic theory and advancing a pluralistic value theory of aesthetics. He pursued this line of inquiry through faculty-mentored research projects, which he presented at LMU’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Outside of the classroom, Cuevas experiments with perceptions of beauty and ugliness on his radio show on KXLU, the student-run radio station. “Oh yeah, the music I play is ugly,” he says. “It sounds like your radio is broken. But I think what you have to do is listen to it and think, ‘what is it about me that thinks this is ugly?’”
Cuevas is now preparing his applications for doctoral programs in philosophy. He made that choice to pursue further study at the encouragement of his professors here, who have helped him review his applications.
“The faculty here take an active interest in their students,” he says. “They will make time for you – not just to explain the obscure material to you, but to get it to relate in a personal way.”