What is Philosophy?

It is thinking clearly and logically about deep questions: Who am I? What is a person? What ought I to do? Is genuinely free choice or action possible? How can I distinguish truth from falsehood, reality from illusion? What is reality? What is truth? What is knowledge? How is it distinguished from mere true belief? How is it best acquired? What is beauty? How should society be organized? How ought people to act toward one another? What, if anything, is the meaning of my life?

Is Philosophy for You?

As many realize, philosophy addresses some of life’s most important questions. As it happens, although many don’t realize it, philosophy also has great practical value, including as preparation for one of the professions, such as law. Even so, philosophy is not for everyone. It is a discipline that aims at excellence. Answers to life’s big questions that are clear, thoughtful, and worthy of belief do not come easily. Finding them requires patience and perseverance. Many people want ready-made answers; philosophy is not for them. Spinoza put it best: “All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.”

Getting Advice

Every member of the Philosophy Department is an advisor. Each of us has regular published office hours and is available to meet you by appointment at many additional times. (Our e-mail addresses and phone numbers are available on the Faculty page.) We are eager to talk with you, even if you’re merely curious about exploring philosophy as a field of study.