About this program
Philosophy, meaning “the love of wisdom,” is the systematic and critical study of fundamental questions arising both in everyday life and in the practice of other academic disciplines. It is the most ancient of the academic disciplines, with sources from around the world dating back thousands of years.
The philosophy major is designed to develop your ability to think clearly, carefully, constructively, and critically about a wide range of issues including questions about:
- what is real (and what merely fictional or mythical): Does God exist? Am I just a material body, or am I also an immaterial soul? Are humans free and therefore responsible for what they do, or are they determined by forces beyond their control? Are race and/or gender socially constructed, or do they reflect biological realities?
- values: What makes an action right, a person good, a painting beautiful, or a nation just? Are standards of value universal or culturally specific?
- knowledge: What is the difference between knowing something and simply having an opinion or belief about it? Are there limits to what we can know, and do some of our questions foolishly violate these limits? Is all knowledge ultimately grounded in sensory experience or can some truths be known through reason alone?
- philosophy itself: Is philosophical truth universal, or is it merely cultural and relative to time and place? Do the same laws of logic and reason apply everywhere or do they differ from one culture to the next? Is philosophy practiced in the same way across the world, or are there importantly different conceptions of philosophy and its methods?
Philosophical questions can be pursued out of simple curiosity (and the encounter with new ways of thinking can be exhilarating for its own sake), but the philosophy instructors at Metropolitan State are convinced that the main value of philosophy is to enable us to lead richer lives and to make the world a better place.
The study of philosophy helps a person to develop her abilities to:
- Read texts carefully, closely, accurately, and sympathetically
- Analyze positions and arguments fairly and critically
- Uncover unstated and unexamined assumptions in arguments— – both one’s own and others’
- Construct cogent and persuasive arguments for one’s position
- Write and speak in a manner that is simple, natural, clear, and persuasive.
- See an issue from more than one point of view and value dialogue with others.
These skills are useful in many fields —careers in law, computer science, business, medicine, law enforcement, the arts, publishing, and many more all value the skills developed by the study of philosophy. People with philosophy degrees can be found in nearly every line of work, and their analytic skills and mental flexibility often help them to excel.
Course requirements are listed below. The major consists of a total of 40 credits (with advisor approval,
- up to 4 credits may be in a related field,
- up to 12 credits can be lower division, and
- up to 12 credits can be transferred in from another college or university)
Students who find that the above requirements do not fit their needs and interests should consult with a philosophy department faculty member about the possibility of a self-designed program. Such a program would need the approval of the Department. We are unlikely to approve a plan that does not include some study of the history of philosophy and some attention to the philosophically- oriented study of race, gender and sexuality.
Students majoring in philosophy will be able to:
- recognize, explain and critically assess
- philosophical views developed by thinkers from several different historical periods and cultural backgrounds;
- central questions (and prominent answers to those question) in several of the following sub-fields of philosophy: ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, social philosophy, political philosophy, feminist theory, and critical race theory;
- write and speak in a clear, coherent, and well-reasoned way on philosophical topics;
- recognize, explain, and question philosophical ideas and assumptions that show up in non-academic contexts: (work, play, art, entertainment, news, punditry life);
- approach philosophical reading, writing, and conversation with an appropriate degree of Socratic humility (recognizing the limits of their own knowledge) and interpretive charity (a willingness to try to see the merits of the views of others).