I have a PhD in philosophy from University of Sydney, and an MA in philosophy from Syracuse University. In both cases my focus was metaphysics, though for the PhD I gave my attention to Plato, and the application of his metaphysical views to his choices as writer.
My decision to pursue a career in philosophy arose from the years I spent in Santa Fe doing an MA degree in liberal arts at St. John's College. "Oh, so you had a REAL education!" said Bill Alston at Syracuse when he learned that his new grad student had come from St. John's. This is where I learned to learn.
Before St. John's I was a classical composer, with a BMus degree from Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. The musical genes have now been transferred to my son, who is a cellist.
Just as I was finishing my PhD, I suddenly became seriously ill. I remained in that state for many years, too weak to teach or write philosophy, often unable to take care of myself. The problem, it turned out, was not my disease; it was my diagnosis - my doctors' conclusion that my confusing symptoms must be caused by the mind.
After ten years of battling that idea I took matters into my own hands, researching my symptoms and test results on PubMed. Two years later I found the answer: a rare neurological disease that was then confirmed with lab tests. Treatment led to a full, permanent recovery. In 2016, I returned to academia, determined to address medicine’s confusions about mind and body.
My work is for my sister, Helen B.F. O'Leary-Syers, who passed away in 2010.