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Why Philosophy?

If you have ever wondered, “Why am I here?” or “What is the meaning of life?”, then you have already thought about philosophy. This subject poses questions about every human endeavor and examines our basic assumptions about everything we think we know. It takes on challenging issues that sometimes defy resolution, while training the brain to think in a rigorous and analytic way about possible answers and their results. Philosophy is not just a subject matter, but a way of thinking.

The problem-solving, analytical, judgmental, and synthesizing capacities philosophy develops are unrestricted in their scope and unlimited in their usefulness. This makes philosophy especially good preparation for positions of leadership, responsibility, or management. A major or minor in philosophy can easily be integrated with requirements for nearly any entry-level job; but philosophical training, particularly in its development of many transferable skills, is especially significant for its long-term benefits in career advancement.

Wisdom, leadership, and the capacity to resolve human conflicts cannot be guaranteed by any course of study; but philosophy has traditionally pursued these ideals systematically, and its methods, its literature, and its ideas are of constant use in the quest to realize them. Sound reasoning, critical thinking, well constructed prose, maturity of judgment, a strong sense of relevance, and an enlightened consciousness are never obsolete, nor are they subject to the fluctuating demands of the marketplace. The study of philosophy is the most direct route, and in many cases the only route, to the full development of these qualities.

The Department of Philosophy has both broad interests and a generous view of philosophy. Our department is interested in working together with other disciplines in the pursuit of common interests, as well as toward solutions to common problems. We have a distinguished history that includes former colleagues such as John Dewey, Herbert Fiegl, and Wilfried Sellars, and women philosophers—such as Mary Shaw and May Brodbeck—at a time where few women were employed in philosophy. Our strong program in the philosophy of science and connection to the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science continue to be a source of pride, along with strengths in moral and political philosophy, philosophy of logic and math, and aesthetics.