Susanna Goodin is a fourth generation cattle rancher’s daughter. She came to philosophy from a logic course taught to art students and told herself that she’d stick with it as long as it . Luckily for students, it still is. Goodin feels that inquiry, interrogation, and reflection inform our human-ness. She says, “As a human, I want more than a full belly. …I want to take advantage of my intelligence, and have it color and influence and enrich my life.”
Goodin’s current work is a book-length project that looks at some of the fringes of fan-fiction and the issues of gender identity that many of these texts highlight. Fanfiction is fiction written by the fans of (and featuring the characters of) TV shows, movies, and books. It is often based on undeveloped storylines or minor characters and can feature speculative, erotic, or epic themes. Star Trek, Dr. Who, the Harry Potter and series, and Lord of the Rings are popular in fan-fiction writing and reading circles. Goodin is focusing her attention on a sub-genre of fanfiction that Issues of sexuality, gender, and education inform much of Goodin’s academic inquiry. She teaches a course on the philosophy of sex and love and says that it has been resonating powerfully with her male students.
There’s all this work on women, and on our identities being formed by society, but male identities are formed by society (too). And to watch the males realize how much of their behavior is given to them and let them rethink how to think about themselves—it’s been quite wonderful.
This mode of thinking, about how we inform our own thinking, what the limits of inquiry are, reflects some of Goodin’s more traditional research topics as well, which include 16th and 17th century metaphysics and epistemology, primarily Locke and Leibniz. Her work in this area focuses on She is a “species nominalist,” believing in part, that
I don’t think species are real. I think they are names for groups that we impose upon the world, that there are any number of groups, and no one group has a —it’s a position called “promiscuous realism.” It’s a metaphysical theory dealing with taxonomy and species.
And at the end of the literal and metaphorical day, Goodin believes that philosophy and reflection are tools for better living. “What I think is important is that when you die, your very last thought as you stare up at the ceiling and go ‘oh f---, I’m dying,’ should be, ‘It’s okay, I got it right. And the only way I know to have a chance of getting it right is to live a life where you reflect upon life.”