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Why Study Philosophy?

What Is Philosophy?

Unlike other academic disciplines, philosophy is not limited to a single area of investigation.

Philosophy asks general questions about the nature of existence, the scope of knowledge, the meaning of life, and the bases of morality. In asking these questions, philosophy teaches us to assess our beliefs and values and to take responsibility for our commitments.

The term "philosophy" comes from the Greek philosophia, meaning love of wisdom. The study of philosophy leads toward wisdom because it requires rigorous thinking and cultivates self-understanding. Philosophy prepares a person not only for a variety of career options but also for the challenges of life.

Why Should I Study Philosophy?

To explore the "big" questions: What is the meaning of life? What is the nature of happiness? What can we know? What is real? What is the relation of faith to reason? What form of government is the best?

To learn how to think clearly, critically, and logically

To cultivate reflective inquiry; to awaken intuition; to deepen insight

To learn how to express ideas effectively both as a writer and a speaker

To understand other fields of inquiry or endeavor by taking courses such as medical ethics business ethics, the philosophy of science, the philosophy of art, and the philosophy of religion

To prepare for graduate work in philosophy, religious studies, law, the ministry, social work, health services, and other areas

To prepare for life and career by getting one of the best all-around undergraduate educations available

What Are the Various Areas within Philosophy?

Aesthetics (Philosophy of Art) - The definition of art, the nature of beauty, artistic expression, representation in art

Epistemology (Theory of Knowledge) - The nature of knowledge, the relation of knowledge and belief, knowledge and evidence, knowledge and certainty, the problem of skepticism

Ethics - The nature of good and evil, the relation of duty to self-interest, the objectivity of moral judgments

Feminist Philosophy - Critique of patriarchy, exploration of women's ways of knowing and valuing, diversity of feminist thinking

History of Philosophy - The study of ancient Greek philosophy, medieval philosophy, early modern philosophy, modern philosophy, the British empiricists and Kant, or nineteenth-century philosophy

Logic - Deductive and inductive logic and the practical applications of logic in the critical evaluation of informal arguments

Metaphysics - Existence, individuation, contingency, universals and particulars, monism, pluralism, Platonism, nominalism, idealism, realism

Non-Western Philosophy - Taoism, Confucianism, Upanishads, Samkhya, Buddhism, Vedanta, Sri Aurobindo, Zen

Phenomenology and Existentialism - Consciousness, intentionality, intuition, freedom, commitment, bad faith, intersubjectivity

Philosophy of Religion - The nature of religion and religious experience, the status of religious knowledge claims, the nature and existence of God

Philosophy of Science - The nature of scientific reasoning, existence of unobservable entities, scientific revolutions, the place of science in human culture

Political Philosophy - The nature of justice, conscience and authority, law and morality