Andrei is incredibly grateful for his time spent at JSF. After defending his dissertation and graduating in May 2019 with a PhD in Philosophy from UVA, Andrei returned to Romania, following Nora, his wife and three times (!) PhD. In Fall 2019 and Spring 2020, they both taught high school Logic (9th grade) and Philosophy (12th grade) in Bucharest. Between Jan-Aug 2020, Andrei received an ICUB Fellowship for Young Researchers from the University of Bucharest on a project titled “What are insights?” Starting Sept 2020, Andrei is an UEFISCDI postdoc at the University of Bucharest on a project titled “Understanding: phenomenal and epistemic aspects”. Starting Oct 2020, he will be an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Theoretical Philosophy at the same university.
What is it to understand?
We understand many things: positions on chessboards, how a theorem is proven, or what makes a painting appealing. But what is it to understand something, in general? We may identify two kinds of relevant features. Often we undergo conscious experiences of understanding that have a specific feel to them. “Aha”, we may say to ourselves, “now I’ve got it!” And, typically, when we understand something, we reap new knowledge about it, or come to be able to explain better what we knew beforehand. My dissertation addresses this question: How does conscious experience connect with reaching a better-grounded knowledge of what we understand? I answer that experiences of understanding help gain more or better knowledge because, in them, we attend to the right aspects of phenomena we inquire into.