Andre Jose Holguin
"As a kid, I wanted to know when the end of the world was going to happen." Andre Jose Holguin started delving into philosophy when he was in middle school. "Instead of coming to the right sources, I came across a lot of conspiracy theories. It really did awaken my mind even though those theories are false." From there he was led to the New Atheism debate. "I was pretty sure of God's existence, but they were giving really good arguments as to why God did not exist. From there began my first phase of philosophy, theological philosophy. I wanted to see does God exist and if so, how can I know he exists?"
While those are very dense questions, Jose was soon delving even deeper. "Let's say I come across God. How can I know it's actually him and not my mind?" The reason he was asking these questions was because of an experience he had when he was 15-years old. "I was in my living room one night reading the Bible because I got curious. All of a sudden something clicked. It was very much a feeling, as though words came to my mind although I never heard them. It was as though someone had told me, ‘You're saved now.' I felt complete peace and the summer that followed was complete bliss."
Jose's faith in God held strong until he took The Philosophy of Religion his freshmen year at California Baptist College. "It was my dream to become a theologian and study God for the rest of my days." But he had reached a level of austerity that didn't match the other students and he found them to be too materialistic. After one year, he transferred to a city college. "That's where I became more open-minded. I was among people who do not honor God. I respected their journey and was more sympathetic to atheists' argument. I said, let them sharpen my faith and see the other side."
After completing two associate degrees, Andre transferred to Cal and continued to pursue philosophy. His journey through the three institutions of higher education have shaped and changed his study of philosophy from Bible-based to more people-based. "Here it's analytic. I'm grateful to Berkeley for making my philosophy more human, more normal."
Andre now classifies himself as a determinist. "Our ability to make decisions in life depends on our circumstances, so much so that I do believe will to be a small part of everything. Success is a person's ability to exploit their circumstances. I think a person's will can conquer circumstances."
For his Miller Scholar's research project, Andre is looking back at a very personal incident that he says changed him for life. "When I was in elementary school, they had a redistricting that forced me to go to a new, not-too-good elementary school. I was uprooted and people were rude and very brutal to me. I guess you could say I underwent something comparable to a mental breakdown. I went from being very extroverted, a very popular kid, to being a complete loner. When you're a loner you do see the brutality of human nature. People see you as an outsider, someone who is beneath them. Now I want to study the philosophical implications of childhood development in education. What moral responsibilities do schools have for their students' philosophical development?"
After finishing his studies in philosophy (and staying for an extra semester), he plans on enrolling in a programming boot camp in order to enter the tech industry. "It is a goal of mine to combine what will be my newfound skills with my interests in philosophy. Long term, I plan on starting my own business."