Students around San Jacinto College North Campus know him as the guy with dreadlocks. Students walking into their philosophy class for the first time soon realize the guy with dreadlocks is, in fact, their professor.
Professor Edwin Aiman grew up in Michigan where he completed his undergraduate degree. He later came to Houston to finish his graduate studies and decided to stay. He teaches all of the philosophy courses at San Jac North including ethics, logic, and world religions. He also teaches at University of Houston main campus on weekends.
Aiman’s career path wasn’t planned out. Like most college students he struggled to find his direction and had to take a few courses until he figured out what suited him best.
“I kind of settled into philosophy sort of, almost by accident. I first knew what I didn’t want to do more so than what I wanted to do. So, I just was taking classes that I thought looked interesting and just kind of tried to figure it out,” Aiman said.
Once he came to Houston, Aiman said he realized what direction he wanted to take with his career.
“I didn’t actually really know until I was in graduate school, that teaching is really what I wanted to do,” he said. “So, I just kind of settled in on it by more of a process of elimination, than a direct knowing of what I wanted to do right away.”
Aiman said he appreciates all of the philosophers but he does have a few favorites.
“I tend to focus on sort of the classic guys,” Aiman said, “Aristotle I’d put as one mostly because Aristotle is pretty practical. He seems to have some reasonable ideas and he was kind of doing everything. He wasn’t just focused on particular subject matter. He talks about all kinds of different things and has some insight into each of those areas.”
In addition, Aiman said he finds Jean-Jacques Rousseau very relevant in that he examines contemporary themes like, “the reliance on consumerism and how we get trapped into those things.”
“I happen to like Rousseau, who is that French philosopher that we talk about in terms of his ability to sort of criticize society in ways that in the 1700s, would have been very innovative. We read it today and its ‘wow.’” Aiman said.
If there’s anything he expects his students to take away from his class, he said it is to have a better understanding of how to apply philosophy to their everyday lives.
“I hope that they get a better appreciation of what philosophy really is; that philosophy really is practical. It’s about real life issues,” Aiman said.
“I hope that they get a little sense of how to address those questions in a kind of systematic rational, reasonable way. That they apply logic and reasoning to their decision making so that they can focus on developing arguments; analyzing arguments,” Aiman said.
San Jac alumnus Ivan Villarreal said he quickly took an interest in Aiman’s class when he was a student.
“Very early, he told us philosophy was defined as the love of wisdom, and right off the bat, I knew it was going to be a great course for me to be in,” Villarreal said.
He said he appreciated the way Aiman instructed the class, so Villarreal took another course with him.
“Basically I took Aiman for Intro to Philosophy and Ethics in my early years at San Jac North. And he was very easygoing and thorough. But still, if you already had an interest in philosophy, he made it more interesting,” Villarreal said.
Furthermore, he said Aiman helped him better understand himself.
“He made me think once again about the universal question, ‘what is the meaning of life?’ He put things into perspective like what I want to do with my life. That’s what Mr Aiman’s philosophy class instilled in me,” Villarreal said.
Meanwhile, Steven Montiel, who is currently taking Aiman’s class said the professor’s appeal is not a result of the course content.
“What I like about Mr. Aiman’s class is that he teaches like it is his passion,” Montiel said, “not only the subject, but teaching itself.”