Doing Philosophy

Philosophy is the greatest study because it asks questions about all there is, and even about all there could or should be. For instance, the study of philosophy includes all of the most difficult questions: What exists (e.g., God, souls, matter)? Do we have free will or are we physically, or divinely, determined? What can we know? Is knowledge possible? How should we live? What is happiness? ... and many more.

Besides these studies of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, respectively, philosophy also includes the disciplines of logic, aesthetics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of religion, language, science, and virtually every other academic discipline.

In addition, there are many possible answers that have been proposed to these questions by such people as Confucius, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, Russell, and others. In your philosophy course, you should get a good sense of at least some of these answers that have been proposed.

Some philosophy courses are more theoretical in nature (e.g., Introduction to Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Eastern Philosophy Logic, Introduction to Ethics, Political Philosophy, Plato), while others are more practical (e.g., Medical and Bio-Ethics, Contemporary Moral Issues, Environmental Ethics, Philosophy of Sexuality, etc.).

In any philosophy class, you should develop some measure of critical thinking skills; that is, being able to understand and, more importantly, to evaluate, claims made by other philosophers (or in logic texts).

Keep in mind that philosophy, depending on how it is pursued, can actually be more about the questions than the answers; namely, learning how to ask better questions, rather than finding an answer. Everyone has opinions, but the trick is whether we can know which of our (or anyone else's) opinions are true or false. In any case, the ultimate goal of philosophy would be to come to have knowledge or wisdom, if either of these is attainable for a human being (for this is itself one of the questions!).

We wish you the best in your journey, and look forward to having you in our classes!

If you have any questions about majoring in philosophy or which courses to take, please contact any of the following professors: Dr. Debi Campbell, Dr. Barry Vaughan, Dr. Dave Yount, or Patrice Nango.