Benjamin Cogan, '12


When you first came to Princeton, what did you think your major would be?

The Woodrow Wilson School.

What made you decide to major in Philosophy?

I took a class in philosophy my freshman fall (Intro to Metaphysics and Epistemology) and everything just clicked immediately. First, I found the content of the questions discussed incredibly interesting – what could be more important than the structure of our world and the way we can attain knowledge? But I also found the way in which philosophy forces you to analyze and construct arguments to be rigorous and fun.

Are there any stories about your experiences as a Philosophy major at Princeton that you would like to share?

I remember very distinctly a moment during my thesis oral examination. I wrote my thesis on the epistemology of disagreement, arguing that the fact that someone who you trust disagrees with you should count as evidence that you are wrong. I had been thinking about this topic for almost a year but in the first minute of my defense was asked a question by Adam Elga on an issue that I had never considered that immediately undermined one of my main conclusions. Far from being upset, I remember being so blown away by being asked such an amazing question by someone who had spent so much less time with my topic than I had! That's the Princeton philosophy faculty.

What did you do immediately after leaving Princeton?

Took a year off to study and travel in Israel.

What do you do now?

I currently work at Hubble Contacts, a contact lens startup I founded in early 2016. [This interview was conducted in July 2017.]

Final words?

Though I’m not too far removed from college yet, I’ve found that predicting how my career will evolve is almost impossible. I’m very happy, then, I studied something at Princeton that I loved – philosophy – rather than trying predict how a different concentration could have a more practical positive impact on my career.