Philosophy asks questions about reality, knowledge, reasoning, language, and conduct. Many people encounter these basic human questions, not merely in spoken and written word, but in life; they have the best chance to raise them, to experience their hidden power, and to feel their inevitability in the study of philosophy. The four main branches of study are: metaphysics, (What is the ultimate nature of reality? What is really real?); epistemology (What can we know about ourselves and about the cosmos, and how do we know?); logic (What are the principles of correct reasoning?); and ethics (What ultimate commitments, if any, are worthy of our allegiance? What are the ultimate principles by which people ought to live?). Other branches deal with questions concerning the nature of politics, society, law, medicine, and art.
The purpose of philosophy is to allow students to evaluate the answers to these basic questions, both ancient and modern. Philosophy enables students to construct and evaluate arguments, to entertain metaphysical and epistemological systems as well as ethical theories, and to make meaningful and critical comparisons of those systems and theories. Philosophy thus prepares students for a more reflective life by promoting the habit of entertaining competing worldviews, of always seeking an alternative, of not taking the usual for granted, and of imagining foreign states of mind. This philosophic attitude is invaluable in any professional field.
Our department offers a minor in religious studies.