About Philosophy

The Philosophy program at Muskingum University challenges and supports students as they think through their basic convictions, attitudes, motives, and commitments, in the hope that each student may become more rational, creative, sensitive, and community-minded. The task is to create students who have not only professional skills, but also well-formed and internalized values.

Philosophy is the oldest discipline, beginning in the West some 2500 years ago in Greek culture (similar developments happened in other regions of the world). The word literally means "the love of wisdom." The first philosophers sought to replace mythological interpretations of the world with theoretical reasoning about its nature. But the wisdom "loved" by these philosophers also has a direct bearing on the conduct of life. Philosophy expresses, the ideal, first formulated by Socrates, that "the unexamined life is not worth living."

As described in Philosophy, A Brief Guide For Undergraduates, philosophy "is unique in its methods and in its nature and breadth of its subject matter. Philosophy pursues questions in every dimension of human life, and its techniques apply to problems in any field of study or endeavor. No brief definition expresses the richness and variety of philosophy. It may be described in many ways. It is a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for understanding, a study of principles of conduct. It seeks to establish standards of evidence, to provide rational methods for resolving conflicts, and to create techniques for evaluating ideas and arguments. Philosophy develops the capacity to see the world from the perspective of other individuals and other cultures; it enhances one's ability to perceive relationships among the various fields of study; and it deepens one's sense of the meaning and varieties of human experience" (i).

Majors can expect to learn how to interpret positions, problems, and areas of study from a wide range of sources in the philosophical tradition. However, this learning is never merely the passive assimilation of information. Philosophy is learned by “doing.” It is not a spectator sport! Students are invited to join the debates by developing the skills necessary to recognize and formulate good arguments. Philosophical education occurs through the activities of dialogue, paper-writing, and close reading of texts. Philosophy students are challenged to re-think the basic assumptions governing personal life, social practices, and the dominant paradigms of knowledge in academic disciplines.


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