Local PhD grad publishes his first book

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

The Rainy River District just added one award-winning author to its long list of publishers.

Ryan McInerney, 34, holds a PhD from Queen’s University. He published a book, titled Philosophy and the Metaphysical Achievements of Education.

The 156-page book should appeal to a broad audience, McInerney said, adding that there are some technical aspects of it that are philosophical in nature with the main theme being about the relationship between philosophy and education.

“The themes in the book are universal,” McInerney said. Everybody’s been educated in the broadest sense, no matter how much schooling a person has done, they’ve been educated, you’re being educated when you’re being taught how to saw a tree down, or how to clean a fish. You don’t necessarily have to be in school.”

The book has also won the C.G. Prado outstanding dissertation award at Queen’s in the philosophy program. The book is adapted from McInerney’s PhD dissertation. He started working on it in 2011, and wrote his first chapter in 2012.

McInerney said the book will appeal to those who are interested in thinking about what education is. In the book, he argues that education happens all the time, not just in the classroom.

“When we normally think about education, we think about formal schooling, and what does that do? Well, that gets you a piece of paper, a diploma or a degree or something like that,” McInerney added. “What I’m trying to do here is talk about education in a much broader sense than what is commonly understood.”

Born in Geraldton and raised in Rainy River, McInerney joined the Royal Military College of Canada after he graduated from high school in 2004. Not long after that, he quit the military and went to Lakehead University where he got a bachelors of Arts with a double major in English and philosophy. 

“When I discovered [philosophy] in university, it really opened up my mind and allowed me to pursue those questions explicitly and to learn about what has been thought and said about the world, the universe and reality for thousands of years,” McInerney said.

His double major in philosophy sparked his interest to pursue research in the field, so he applied to get his masters in his fourth year of the undergraduate program. McInerney received the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada scholarship which funded his master’s program.

“When I took my first philosophy course, I just fell in love with the fact that there was a whole body and history of literature, people and thinkers that were on to these questions and asking the questions that I had been trying to formulate pretty much in complete ignorance of that body of literature of philosophy as a study as a discipline,” he added.

McInerney has been doing some long term occasional positions such as teaching with the Rainy River District School Board, Rainy River High School, Riverview in Rainy River and Fort Frances High School. He has also been teaching part time and full time, as a contract lecturer at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

After years of reading and research, McInerney’s life has been profoundly changed by philosophy, saying he knows less than what he knew before. He added that philosophy is not an academic but more about the way in which a person is living in the world and their approach to things.

“Philosophy explicitly orients itself and the person towards thinking about the world, or what we might call reality at large,” McInerney said. “Philosophy has the power of transforming your understanding of reality in a way that some substances can do, but instead it does it for reasons. You can think your way through to a transformation of how you understand things in general.”