Why should I take a philosophy class?

In the original Greek, “philosophy” means the love of wisdom, so philosophers are those who seek to be wise. But this definition already invites philosophical reflection, namely, what does it mean to be wise? Socrates said that those who are wise know that they know nothing. He seems to have meant that the beginning philosopher must be willing to see the world with new eyes and refuse to engage the world with dogmatic certainty. We do this by asking questions fundamental to the human condition, especially those questions that do not find easy solutions through scientific inquiry. These are questions like:

  • What is truth?
  • What is knowledge?
  • What makes acts right or wrong?
  • What would make a society just?
  • What is the true self?
  • Is the mind distinct from the body?
  • Do we have free will?
  • What is the ultimate structure of reality?
  • What makes for a meaningful life?
  • What do we owe others?

Philosophers, across many traditions and over many centuries, have developed a tool kit for approaching these questions, including using argument and analysis to get closer to the truth. Philosophers are often masters of logic. The philosophical toolkit can help us reason critically in our scholarly, personal and professional lives. Indeed, philosophy helps us to organize our thoughts, reason better, and navigate the many complexities of life reflectively and maturely.

Do you doubt that you will do well in philosophy?

If you’ve read this far, then you know that asking for a definition of philosophy already involves doing philosophy, so congratulations on completing what may be your first philosophical exercise. You can start your philosophical journey in one of the many courses we offer, including introductory courses, courses on logic/reasoning, ethics, the history of philosophy and courses on Eastern philosophy.

PHI courses fulfill requirements for graduation and transfer by carrying one or more of the following tags: H, HU, L.