My name is Stephen M. Bourque and I am an alumnus of Stonehill College. At Stonehill, I majored in philosophy, and ever since, I have worked toward my PhD in philosophy, gaining my masters degree at SUNY Stony Brook University and moving on to matriculate in a PhD program at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. I am writing in regards to the work and continuing influence that Professor Richard Capobianco has had on my life and my academic research in general. Professor Capobianco’s gentle rigor has continued to inspire me to work my hardest and always be open to different possibilities in my academic pursuits as well as to maintain an open, affable, and ethically guided disposition to the world in general.
Professor Capobianco’s research concentrates on Martin Heidegger’s philosophical system, usually titled as ‘phenomenology.’ Heidegger as well as phenomenology examine the way that things in our world appear to us and on the existential dimension of humanity. As such, Professor Capobianco’s work addresses the most serious and fundamental questions of human existence. He does this through engaging with Heidegger’s primary texts (which is a feat in and of itself as Heidegger wrote vigorously throughout his career) and a vast plethora of contemporary scholarship. His extensively researched work, however, does not cover over his own thinking, a thinking and world view that has come to vastly influence my own work on Heidegger and on philosophy in general. Much like Professor Capobianco’s friendly and personable disposition in and outside the classroom, his work argues for an interpretation of Heidegger that incorporates an appreciation and love for life and nature as we (human beings) experience it. This experience is appreciative of the thinking in Heidegger that concentrates on his central concern for what Capobianco terms, ‘the being-way.’ Capobianco’s emphasis on ‘the Being-way’ (or the coming and going of all life forms through time) is a profound, radical, and influential reading of Heidegger’s corpus (featured in a more developed manner in his new book, Heidegger’s Way of Being). Many other Heidegger scholars tend to reduce his thinking to simply a reflection on meaning-making or exactly what meaning is to a human being. Capobianco’s interpretation, in contrast to these reductionist positions, takes Heidegger’s concern with living and the fundamental question of what it is to be as his central issue. As such, his research emphasizes that behind Heidegger’s many works the most humanitarian question of all remains the central thesis of Heidegger’s work. In the larger picture of Heidegger scholarship, this emphasis is a much needed, progressive, and liberating perspective.
On a more personal note, I have grown to love Capobianco’s work immensely as I have progressed through my studies (beginning to appreciate it more and more profoundly as time has passed since my undergraduate studies). I have concentrated many hours of research on thinking through Capobianco’s influential interpretations and ideas. Most notably, I recently wrote an article that was published based on Capobianco’s interpretation of Heidegger. Before I met and came to know Capobianco through his writings, I did not appreciate Heidegger. It was only through his drawing out the ‘ethos’ (or ‘way of life’) of Heidegger’s thinking that I came to appreciate this in my own writing and life in general. In this way, Capobianco’s concept of the ‘being-way’ has opened up a larger appreciation for life and philosophical scholarship that embraces the love of life in every facet, whether large or small. This emphasis on the ‘being-way’ extends beyond simply Heidegger scholarship. As an up-and-coming scholar, I have utilized this fundamental appreciation for nature through the lens of the ‘being way’ when writing about medical ethics, critical theory, as well as in my writings on other thinkers (such as Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Benedict de Spinoza).
Capobianco’s work not only provides an accurate depiction true to the whole of Heidegger’s thinking, but also is a refreshing and unique interpretation that draws on Heidegger’s never-ending appreciation for life, nature, and the human condition. Capobianco’s thoroughly researched and intense love for a thinker, who continues to inspire many different aspects of the humanities and sciences, is truly a remarkable feat of academic prowess. I continue to learn and be inspired by the honest, kind, gentle, and intelligent man that I was blessed to have learned so much from at Stonehill and throughout my academic journey.
Stephen M. Bourque