Philosophy
Holloway Hall

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy is both a way proposing and interrogating the meaning of human life as well as an intellectual discipline that fosters the best thinking possible in its students. Far from an idle discipline asking "pie in the sky" questions, philosophy seeks to find the truth about to the most controversial and challenging questions available. The best example of how seriously philosophers value the truth is the Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, who was so committed to challenging the thinking of his time that he was executed for it! Though our faculty and students have (so far) a perfect record in managing to avoid Socrates’ fate, we do pride ourselves in carrying on his tradition of asking basic questions that require examining the meaning of human existence.

Philosophy embraces a vast set of these questions, but a few examples you might typically find in a course from our department would be:

What is the Self?
What is God?
What is the Good?
What is Being?
What is Freedom?
What is Friendship?
What is Beauty?
What is the Mind?
What is Just?
     

Our department is devoted to addressing questions about values and the meaning of human experiences. In our classes, students are invited to talk and write about their lives and about the moral, religious, and political questions that perplex them. In fact, there is hardly anything we are not willing to discuss.

Thinking, writing and speaking about basic questions is, in our view, what a humane education is all about. These questions have tremendous relevance to all intellectual disciplines--and we explore this relevance in the courses that we teach with other departments (such as Nursing, Political Science, Environmental Studies, English and Theatre/Dance to name a few). The ability to rigorously examine ideas and critically evaluate conflicting views, which you will develop by doing philosophy, is an ability that is of pivotal importance in every intellectual discipline.