In the spotlight: The Italian American philosopher at UMSL

Jun 23, 2017 1016


Gualtiero Piccinini says he was “a thoughtful kid.” His parents advised him to think for himself, and he “took that seriously.” He’s been a philosophy professor at UMSL since 2005 and works primarily in philosophy of mind with an eye toward psychology, neuroscience and computer science.

Almost an engineer. Piccinini’s father was a research engineer, so Piccinini thought he would follow in his father’s footsteps. “I was going to do environmental engineering and solve the world’s environmental problems. “Foucault’s Pendulum.” The summer after high school, Piccinini picked up “Foucault’s Pendulum,” a rather dense, cerebral book full of philosophy and history references. “It was very hard for me to follow. I thought, ‘Wow, there’s all this stuff I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be cool to understand all this?’” Later that fall, he changed his major from engineering to philosophy.

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