About the Department

What is Philosophy? Philosophy is unlike any other field.  Whereas most disciplines aim to “gather the facts” about a particular subject, the subject matter of philosophy is very broad:  philosophers explore questions at the foundation of nearly every other discipline and explore all dimensions of human life.  Further, philosophical questions are not easily resolved by gathering the facts.  Rather, philosophy involves the critical examination of world views. Most of us adopt, without realizing that we do, our own society’s conventional assumptions about what the world is like. As a result, we tend to take our own picture of the world and our place in it for granted. By asking what reasons there are for accepting one conception of the world over another, philosophy questions conventional wisdom about, for example, the existence of God, the nature of morality, the desirability of a capitalist economic system, and the possibility of acquiring knowledge. Philosophy also tries to clarify the meaning of those concepts that are fundamental to our understanding of the world, for example, the concepts of moral and artistic goodness, equality, and truth. Philosophy thus helps us develop an understanding of the nature of morality, religion, art, political life, and science.

Why Study Philosophy? Because philosophy is learned through questioning, speculation, and rational argumentation, it helps you to become an active seeker of understanding and not a passive recipient of information. And because it involves the critical analysis of such a broad range of issues, including the conceptual starting points of other disciplines, philosophy has a special role to play in the liberal arts curriculum.  The study of philosophy will strengthen your ability to write clearly and persuasively, to be creative in problem solving, and to carefully and critically analyze arguments – skills that will benefit you in a wide variety of life and career paths.  In fact, there is lots of evidence that philosophy is excellent preparation for a variety of careers (in business, medicine, law).  [Adapted from: Philosophy: A Brief Guide for Undergraduates, a publication of the American Philosophical Association.]

Message from the Chair

Chair PortraitJonathan Neufeld
Department Chair

Welcome students, parents, alumni, and other visitors! The Department of Philosophy offers a major, a minor, and courses that help non-majors understand how philosophical issues arise in all dimensions of human experience. read more