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The word 'philosophy' stems from two Greek words that together mean “the love of wisdom.”

To study philosophy is to strive after defensible views on the basic issues of knowledge and value. Philosophy challenges one to develop consistent and reasonable positions on such matters as the nature and scope of human knowledge, the grounds for moral and political principles, the character of religious belief, and the methods employed by both practical and theoretical sciences. This study encourages responsible, independent thought and action. And it widens one’s experience by disclosing surprising alternatives to settled opinions and habitual beliefs.

Wisdom alone is the science of other sciences.
Plato, Charmides, 166c
Philosophy is not a substitute for study in other disciplines. Rather, study and knowledge of other fields is necessary for serious philosophy to take place. Physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, economics, history, theology, and cultural studies all provide important though incomplete perspectives. In philosophy, we attempt to assemble and arrange these perspectives to achieve a more complete understanding of reality. Thus, philosophy is not in competition with other disciplines but depends on them. Likewise, philosophy is essential to, and permeates, other disciplines.

Philosophy often concerns itself with questions that do not belong to one given discipline, questions that concern all human beings. What is the nature of reality? Does it have meaning or purpose? Is the human being free? Is there an objective morality? Do we have moral duties? What are the limits of human understanding? What am I? What might I become?

A major or minor in philosophy represents the finest tradition of liberal arts studies and will be of value in any vocation that prizes this tradition. Logic and ethics are critical elements in the study of philosophy, and these are inherent in numerous professional fields and in life itself. Philosophical study prepares students for a variety of careers, especially those who plan to pursue further graduate or professional degrees in such fields as law, medicine, journalism, psychology, education, computers, art, and so on.

Students interested in these or similar fields are invited to consider a second major or a minor in philosophy as a natural complement to their main specialization. From the wide variety of philosophy offerings each semester, students may select courses of particular relevance to their other work.

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Chair: Professor Stephen Grover
Office: Powdermaker Hall, Room 350
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Director of Graduate Studies:
Professor Alberto Cordero


Director of Undergraduate Studies:
Dr. Jessica Polish


Department Administrator:
Ms. Meilian Hong


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