The study of philosophy involves fundamental questions basic to being human, such as: What is the nature of reality, mind, body, life and death? What is the nature of knowledge, truth, and logical reasoning? What is a good and moral life? What is justice? What is the nature of the Divine? What is beauty? We want to equip students not only to understand and appreciate the answers offered historically to such questions, but to enable them to develop their own ideas and thoughts about them in the context of reasoned argument. The crucial emphasis in philosophy on writing and verbal communication skills, imaginative interpretation of texts, as well as critical thinking and logic, offers a unique opportunity for self-knowledge as well as an ideal preparation for possible careers in education, law, business, journalism, medicine, or public service. Many of our students are double majors, finding that the rigorous demands of philosophy in reasoning, writing, and communication combine well with other majors (such as biology, psychology, or art).
Students majoring in philosophy develop with their Mentor a program of study including a minimum of ten courses:
- The History of Philosophy Senior Seminar
- A "Writing Intensive" philosophy course
- At least three courses from the History of Philosophy series, including Ancient and Early Modern and at least one other (Medieval, 19th Century, 20th Century, or a course with significant historical content approved by the faculty).
- Introduction to Symbolic Logic
- Introduction to Ethics
- Any three other courses focused on the student's particular philosophical interests
Philosophy majors are to have a working knowledge of the issues and methods covered in their required courses in logic, ethics and the history of philosophy sequence. This competence and the ability to communicate it in speaking and writing is demonstrated by satisfactory completion of the courses in the philosophy major, and the Comprehensive Examination in Philosophy, which includes exams on each period of the history of philosophy, competence with basic philosophical concepts, and the development and oral defense of a Senior Paper.
A minor in philosophy consists of five philosophy courses, including Introduction to Logic, Introduction to Ethics (or another Ethics class approved by Faculty), and at least one course from the History of Philosophy sequence. An approved course of study must be developed in consultation with the Philosophy Discipline Coordinator.