In the Oct. 3 issue of the Thresher, Maddy Scannell, like many Democrats, called Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing “a job interview.” Others, however, have quibbled with this description. Right-wing commentators dispute this characterization because they believe the confirmation hearing ought to be treated as a judicial proceeding. My intention in writing this piece is not to align myself with either of these contexts; rather, I am interested in the language itself. What does it mean to view Kavanaugh’s hearing as a job interview? What does it mean to view Kavanaugh’s hearing as a judicial prosecution?
Dichotomies have always frustrated me. When considering identity, they read as, “You are either this or that.” Many are confronted with the rigidity of dichotomies in their everyday lives, especially when it comes to integral aspects of one’s identity (e.g., gender, race and sexual orientation). There is one dichotomy, though, that has greatly influenced my time at Rice, pertaining to the utility of knowledge. Knowledge, according to this dichotomy, can be either useful or useless. Because of my academic interests (philosophy and psychology), I have often experienced others questioning the usefulness of the knowledge produced by these disciplines. What is the value of an education grounded in philosophical inquiry? Can psychological knowledge be considered scientific? More broadly, what makes knowledge useful?