Lee '13 Awarded the Beinecke Scholarship

April 19, 2012
Andrew Lee '13, Beinecke Award Winner

The Dean of the College is proud to announce that Andrew Lee ’13 has been awarded the Beinecke Scholarship. The Beinecke Scholarship was endowed by the brothers Beinecke as a means of encouraging students of exceptional promise to pursue intellectually adventurous graduate educations in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The highly competitive award is for college juniors and provides support for graduate study at any accredited university. Lee hopes to study the philosophy of mind in graduate school after completing ambitious dual degrees in philosophy and cognitive science this year and an AM in philosophy as part of Brown’s rigorous Fifth-Year Masters Program next year.

Lee came to Brown from Shawnee Mission East High School in Shawnee Mission, a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas. According to his own self-description, Andrew was for much of his high school career, an “unmotivated” student, finding success at going through the motions of intellectual endeavor. During his senior year, however, an independent project in philosophy about the possibility that zombies – beings who could make the motions of human life without enjoying consciousness – could exist ironically awakened within him a sense of intellectual engagement and adventure.

At Brown, Lee has taken his passion for learning, in general, and philosophical discussion and debate, in particular, to the next level. One of very few students admitted to both the combined AB/ScB program and the fifth year Masters program, Andrew will graduate in May 2013 with an AB in Philosophy, an ScB in Cognitive Science, and an AM in Philosophy. Taking the maximum of five courses every semester but two and taking several graduate courses as well, Andrew has challenged himself at every opportunity. Importantly, Lee has also taken the opportunity to share his love of philosophy with others. At Brown he has helped to revive the Philosophy department's Undergraduate Group, began a rigorous reading group for advanced philosophy students, and developed a tutoring program for logic. He also taught philosophy in New Orleans through the Breakthrough Collaborative.

Currently, Lee is writing a thesis called "The Phenomenal Content of Visual Experience," which examines the relationships among subjective experience, intentionality, and perception. He hopes to develop a theoretical framework that can help us better understand the structure and content of visual experience as well as conscious experience in general. In addition to his course work in philosophy, Andrew's research in cognitive science helped him lay the groundwork for this project. Last summer he worked with Professor Steven Sloman on a cognitive science project about judgment of people's intentions. He worked in lab developing experiments that tested the probability of intentionality judgments.

In graduate school, Lee hopes to continue to work on questions concerning consciousness, mental representation, perception, and personal identity, bringing to bear on them both the analytic rigor of philosophy and the quantitative analysis of cognitive science. In particular, he hopes to make important contributions to the field of experimental philosophy, a relatively new field of inquiry that seeks to "democratize" philosophy by using empirical data – typically a sampling of the opinion of a wide range of ethnic and social groups – to consider traditional philosophical questions. By shifting the emphasis in philosophy’s thought experiments away from pure thought and closer towards experiment, Lee and other thinkers in the field hope to explore dimensions of philosophical problems that traditional philosophers have missed.