MA in Philosophy

Turner Penton, 2020

Turner Penton

Describe your thesis.

My thesis focuses on the relationship between prisoners and the institutions they are subject to. In particular, I attempt to account for the ways in which prison is designed to amputate possibility and inflict a form of 'non-existence'; via a snuffing of prisoner's political existence, their ontological one (their relation to space, time, the world and reality) becomes subsequently unhinged.

How did you choose your specific area of study?

Before pursuing my Master's at Mason, I worked as a corrections officer in Richmond. Not only did the stress of the job motivate me to seek something more personally enriching, but my conception of morality and justice became what I believe to be more honed as I grasped more concretely the institution I chose to work for. It wasn't initially my intention to write a thesis on prison, but my studies seemed to converge succinctly into the topic, and it is something I'm passionate about.

How did your academic experiences in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences impact you?

My employment history commonly sees me supervising and caring for others, so a better understanding the forces that make people who they are as well as the complexity and diversity of human goals and desires bolsters and expands my empathy and compassion. Additionally, familiarizing myself more deeply with the traditions and modern horizons of philosophy better equips me to contribute my own ideas to the field, and to thought in general.

What accomplishment(s) during your time at Mason are you most proud of?

Finishing my thesis.

Are there faculty or staff members who made a difference during your Mason career? Please give an example of this impact if possible.

I would say that Dr. Rachel Jones did a number on the theoretical frameworks I entered George Mason with, which were largely of the analytic approach. In doing so, I believe she helped me develop a conception of thought, reality, society, and the purpose of philosophy which will continue to evolve well after my time as a student has ended. I also want to mention that a course I simply graded for, in which I also sat for lectures, featured some of the most meaningful pieces of philosophical literature I have read to date. So I have to thank Dr. Wayne Froman for giving me the opportunity to both assist the faculty while simultaneously enjoying some wonderful reads.

What advice would you give to an incoming cohort of graduate students?

My advice is to open yourselves to not only new ideas, but ideas which spark friction in your mind. Between every professor in the department there is a wealth of radical and rich thinking; don't let your idea of their ideas get in the way of you understanding them.

What are your current career plans following graduation? What are your long-term career goals?

I am excited to see what this degree will do for my existing career in childcare and education.