If being a student at Cambridge University wasn’t daunting enough already, Nathan Lyons now also eats his meals under the stern gaze of some of history’s greatest minds.
“There is a palpable sense of age, tradition, and intellectual inquiry here at Cambridge,” he said. “It’s a rich context to do one’s research. In the dining hall at my college there are paintings of significant alumni on the walls — it’s a strange experience to eat under the scrutiny of Milton and Darwin.”
The 26-year-old is completing a PhD in Philosophy of Religion after securing a much-coveted spot in the Faculty of Divinity and a scholarship to cover the costs of the three-year program. Nathan’s research is looking at the philosophy of nature, particularly the relationship between the ‘human’ realm and the ‘natural’ realm.
“A lot of modern philosophy sees a strict division between those two realms, as though we are really disembodied minds who just happen to possess bodies. But I find that profoundly dissatisfying. We are not angels, we are animals, even if we are a peculiar kind of rational animal.”
Holding his own
“We left a Sydney winter and arrived to an English winter — adjusting to the weather is still very much a work-in-progress,” he said. “Like everyone else in Cambridge I get around on a bike. It’s a much more effective way to get around the little winding streets of a medieval town. But it’s always grim in the morning when it has been raining.”
Surrounded by the best minds in the world, Nathan spends the majority of his time independently researching, along with regular seminars and thesis supervision meetings.
“The breadth of expertise among my friends and acquaintances here in Cambridge is remarkable,” he said. “It certainly can be daunting trying to keep up in a conversation between a quantum physicist and a neurobiologist over drinks.”
Nathan Lyons completed a Master of Philosophy at ACU.