Janus Yuen

Janus Yuen, RTA, Columbia College ‘25

Date Interviewed: September 2, 2023

Introduce yourself!

I’m from Texas! I’m a rising junior at Columbia College majoring in History.

What drew you to work at F&C?

I wanted to work at F&C because helping teach high school students taking political philosophy seminars sounded like a dream summer job (it did not disappoint!).

What is your favorite part of the program?

My favorite part of the program was seeing all of y’all think; processing these difficult, age-old ideas and making them your own.

What is your favorite reading in the program and why?

My favorite reading might have been Douglass, because I felt like coming out of Rousseau, Locke, and Hobbes, students’ thinking and writing was really starting to blossom. I remember people finding ideas from previous readings in new ones that did not reference [those previous ideas] directly, mixing ideas, and starting conversations.

What is one piece of advice that you would like to give to F&C students?

My one piece of advice is to keep searching for the answers to the questions we only began to ask in F&C: What is the ideal relationship between a society and its government? What obligations should bind us to one another? What does a just order look like? What does it really mean to be free? Free from what? Free to do what? I don’t advise this because it will not serve to protect you in life or any other immediately practical purpose. In fact thinking critically about how the world around you is run is exactly what’s most likely to get you in trouble. But [it’s still important] because one, an examined, self-conscious, socially-conscious life is a fundamentally richer life. [You] can’t argue about this one: one agrees or one doesn’t—and given that y’all chose to come here I’d assume you do agree. Two, while your searching may not help yourself, your example may help others, your community, your society, to consider—and therefore determine—their own political end goals. The viability of the good life, arguably, depends on the existence of a good society. Yet being a thinking, conscious citizen might not be the end goal of that society, but rather a necessary means for bringing that society about. Oh, also, second piece of advice: remember that words matter. The words you use indicate your principles and build the world we live in, as you saw with your readings. Treasure words, your own and others’ alike, and pay attention to what those words do in the world.

What is one fun fact about you?

A fun fact about me is that I can wiggle my ears.