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September 14, 2022

By Rebecca Mohr, Capital University Communications Manager

Capital Student Explores the Philosophy of Greatness

Research opportunities can be a great way to pursue academic passions outside of the traditional classroom setting. For Brandon Beesley, philosophy, the Summer Scholars fellowship was equally stressful and fulfilling.

“While I was trying to think of a research topic, I was really stressing myself out. I was so focused on having to have a really great summer scholar proposal that I wasn’t even sleeping. I kept telling myself that it had to be something great,” said Beesley. “Then I finally realized the pressure I was putting on myself. I thought, why does it have to be great? Why am I creating so much anxiety? I didn’t have an answer, and so I turned that concept into my research question.”

In his research project, “An Analysis of the Overlooked Value of Greatness,” Beesley explores “why greatness and great acts are worth so much sacrifice.” Through Capital’s Summer Scholars program, he worked directly with his mentor, Nate Whelan-Jackson, Ph.D., assistant professor of Philosophy, on his first philosophy academic research project.

“Brandon’s project dove into a central philosophical question: What is ‘excellence’ and is it valuable? He took initiative and read broadly in the history of philosophy. Our conversations wove this fascinating story of the development of the idea and various interpretations and distinctions made in the analysis of the concept,” said Whelan-Jackson. “He had an aptitude for appreciating nuance and creatively weaving different threads together to create something new and insightful.”

“What I found was that there’s two different ideas. Power is greatness or virtue is greatness. They seem to be two totally different ideas, but in the end, I realized a false dichotomy between the two,” said Beesley. “Friedrich Nietzsche is a German philosophy. He discusses what’s called a will to power. It’s humanities need to express their own power and overcome obstacles. It contains a choice because if you enact your will that’s just making a right choice. And Aristotle says that you need to choose to enact a virtue.”

Beesley’s interest in philosophy started at a young age and only grew through his summer research project.

“I grew up talking about philosophy with my dad and his friends. In high school, I took a few philosophy courses, which was a cool introductory,” said Beesley. “The Summer Scholars program was my first experience with philosophy-focused academic research. It was interesting to dive into.”

Capital offers a prestigious Summer Scholars fellowship to undergraduate students interested in participating in academic research during the summer semester. The fellowship is a 10-week experience where students work one-on-one with their mentor to complete a research project. At the end of the summer, students submit a written paper and present an oral presentation to their peers and university leadership.

After graduation, Beesley plans to attend law school and knows that his experience in philosophy at Capital will give him the edge he needs on his applications.

“Philosophy majors are one of the highest scoring majors on the law school admissions test,” said Beesley. “I’m on track to graduate super early, so this is actually going to be my last year.”

To read more about Capital University’s Summer Scholars program, go to

To learn more about Capital’s Philosophy Department, visit