Why Should I Study Philosophy?

Aristotle: "If you ought to philosophize you ought to philosophize; and if you ought not to philosophize you ought to
philosophize: therefore, in any case you ought to philosophize. For if philosophy exists, we certainly ought to
philosophize, since it exists; and if it does not exist, in that case too we ought to inquire why philosophy does not
exist -- and y inquiring we philosophize; for inquiry is the cause of philosophy."
!ertrand "ussell: "#hilosophy is to e studied, not for the sa$e of any definite answers to its questions, since no
definite answers can, as a rule, e $nown to e true, ut rather for the sa$e of the questions the%sel&es; ecause
these questions enlarge our conception of what is possile, enrich our intellectual i%agination, and di%inish the
dog%atic assurance which closes the %ind against speculation; ut ao&e all ecause, through the greatness of the
uni&erse which philosophy conte%plates, the %ind also is rendered great, and eco%es capale of that union with
the uni&erse which constitutes its highest good."
'ohn (ewey: "#hilosophy ... is a generalized theory of criticis%. Its ulti%ate &alue for life-experience is that it
continuously pro&ides instru%ents for the criticis% of those &alues -- whether of eliefs, institutions, actions or
products -- that are found in all aspects of experience."
What is philosophy?
Philosophers love to argue about that. Philosophy has been defined as the love of wisdom, the critical examination
of ideas about ourselves and the world, the search for truth through reasoning, the quest for the foundations for our
basic beliefs, as well as a discipline which comprises metaphysics, logic, ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics. Such
definitions have their uses, of course. ut you!ll only discover what philosophy really is by studying and doing it.
)ilary #utna%: "Any philosophy that can e put in a nutshell elongs in one."
"ere are some of the questions philosophers as#$ What can I #now? What should I do? What can I hope for? What
does it mean to be human? Who am I? What can I become? %an I change? Philosophers also as# such questions as$
&oes 'od exist? What is science? What is religion? What is art? What is the relation of the community and the
individual? "ow can we be ethical in medicine, law, and business?
Should I study it?
&efinitely( In philosophy courses, you!ll get to respond to those questions, and many others. )ou!ll study the ideas
of ancient philosophers *such as Plato + ,ristotle-, modern philosophers *&escartes + .ant-, and contemporary
philosophers *Wittgenstein + /oucault-. )ou!ll discover what has been written concerning, in the words of Socrates,
0the most important things0 11 issues of human character and the conduct of life.
Friedrich *ietzsche: "A &ery popular error: ha&ing the courage of one+s con&ictions; rather it is a %atter of ha&ing
the courage for an attac$ on one+s con&ictions,"
In addition to engaging the great philosophers, you!ll get intellectual survival s#ills. )ou!ll learn how to question
what passes as common #nowledge + accepted wisdom, to evaluate your own + others! positions, and to formulate
new ideas. )ou!ll be able to thin#, write, and spea# intelligently about the texts and issues you study. Such s#ills
will enable you to excel in all of the other courses you!ll ta#e, as well as to succeed in whatever you do after you
graduate. 2hey!ll contribute to your development as an educated citi3en in a democratic society.
Can I have a list of courses?
4551level$ 6ogic, Introduction to Philosophy, 7thics.
8551level$ Philosophy of 9eligion, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of ,rt + eauty, Philosophy of 6aw.
:551level$ ,ncient Philosophy, 7arly ;odern Philosophy, 4<th %entury Philosophy, 85th %entury ,nalytic
Philosophy, 85th %entury %ontinental Philosophy, ;etaphysics, 7pistemology.
=551level$ Philosophical Studies$ 'reat /igures> 2opics in 7thics, Society, + Politics> and 2opics in 7pistemology,
;etaphysics, + Science. Specific figures + topics change each year.
'ohn -tuart .ill: "A pupil fro% who% nothing is e&er de%anded which he cannot do, ne&er does all he can."
;ost philosophy classes have about twenty students. 2here!s a Philosophy %lub too, where students discuss ideas
and eat pi33a.
What about a major or a minor?
We!ve got both. /or a ma?or, you only need < courses. So it!s easy to do a double ma?or. )ou!ll have plenty of
choices. )ou!ll be able to pursue your own interests. ,s# the philosophy ma?ors and they!ll tell you 11 it!s wonderful(
Friedrich *ietzsche: "/hat I understand y +philosopher+: A terrile explosi&e in the presence of which e&erything
is in danger."
/or a minor, you!d ta#e @ courses. ,gain, lots of choices. 7ven if you!re a double ma?or, you can do a philosophy
minor too.
)ypatia of Alexandria: ""eser&e your right to thin$, for e&en to thin$ wrongly is etter than not to thin$ at all."
Who teaches this stuff?
Aic# Smith, chair$ Introduction to Philosophy, Philosophy of 9eligion, ,ncient Philosophy, and 7pistemology.
B. ;. /rit3man$ Introduction to Philosophy, 7thics, Philosophy of ,rt + eauty, Philosophy of 6aw, 4<th %entury
Philosophy, and 85th %entury %ontinental Philosophy.
Bay Cdenbaugh$ 7nvironmental 7thics, 6ogic, Philosophy of 9eligion, Philosophy of Science, and ;etaphysics.
9ebecca %openhaver$ 6ogic, Introduction to Philosophy, 7thics, 7arly ;odern Philosophy, 85th %entury ,nalytic
Philosophy, ;etaphysics, and 7pistemology.
,ll of us teach the =551level Philosophical Studies courses.
'ean-Fran0ois 1yotard: "2ne +teaches philosophy+ only y learning how to philosophize."
Anything else?
7ach semester, six to eight philosophers are invited to campus to present colloquia where they tal# about their wor#
and ideas. In addition, the students regularly design a 0Philosophy 7xtravagan3a0 where we discuss such topics as
0What is truth?0 or 0,re we free?0 ;a?ors have the option of writing an honors thesis during their senior year. ,nd,
there!s the Philosophy %lub.
Are there career opportunities?
)ou bet. Philosophy develops intellectual survival s#ills that are useful in science, the ministry, ?ournalism,
government, computer science, business, and other professions. Philosophy ma?ors are one of the three highest
scoring groups on the 6aw School ,dmissions 2est *6S,2-, second on the 'raduate ;anagement ,dmissions 2est
*';,2-, and sixth out of fifty on the 'raduate 9ecord 7xam *'97-. 2ogether with the relevant science courses,
philosophy provides a unique preparation for medical school. Wisdom and success. What more could you as#?
1udwig /ittgenstein: "/or$ing in philosophy -- li$e wor$ in architecture in %any respects -- is really %ore a
wor$ing on oneself. 2n one+s interpretation. 2n one+s way of seeing things. 3And what one expects of the%4."

Any examples?
• Philosophy professor, Dniversity of ;ichigan.
• 9eligion professor, &ra#e Dniversity.
• 2elecommunications manager, Eerox.
• %ounselor, .err )outh and /amily %enter, Portland.
• 9eporter, %S Aews.
• Psychology professor, Pacific Dniversity.
• Philosophy professor, Pacific 6utheran Dniversity.
• Fice president for college relations, 6ewis + %lar# %ollege.
• Winegrower.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.