What is Philosophy?
Philosophy is, broadly put, the endeavor to make sense of the world, of oneself, and of one's relations with others.
“What does it mean to be human?” “What responsibilities to humans have to the natural world?” “What is the best way to live a good life?” “Is there anything in the world that is stable and reliable? Or does everything change?” “Does the past still exist?” “If all our actions are caused by prior circumstances, what happens to free will?” “Can computers think?” “If we met aliens for the first time, how would we decipher their language?” “If there were no laws and no government, would this lead to chaos or to utopia?” “With so many competing opinions, how can we know which, if any, are true?”
But, more than a subject area, Philosophy is an activity - a way of life - that aims at sound thinking and good living as its goals. To study philosophy is to think deeply and critically about life’s fundamental questions, and to come up with theories of our own: theories, inspired by creative thought, and backed up with good reasoning.
We offer an unusually broad range of courses in philosophy—from Philosophy of Science to Metaphysics, from Logic to Law and Morality, and from Bioethics to Philosophy of Feminism and Philosophies of China. Our curriculum is integrated into other majors and programs across campus, including Asian Studies, Business, Environmental Science, Jewish Studies, Neuroscience, Political Science, Public Health, Sustainability Studies, Theatre, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Students also have the option to specialize in an area of concentration.
Our department consists of active scholars who are also devoted to excellence in teaching. True to the spirit of a Liberal Arts college, our professors are dedicated to opening up the philosophical traditions from around the world to our students, and providing them with the skills to understand and participate in profound philosophical discourse. In addition to our extensive regular offerings, our professors work one on one with students on Independent Studies of their own choice. We have supervised summer research projects and Honors theses. We have also prepared students to participate in conferences, and regularly write letters of support for graduate school, internships, law school, and employment.
The value of Philosophy
The value of a philosophical education lies first and foremost in its subject matter: we study in depth the theories of some of the greatest thinkers in the world who have attempted to solve the mysteries that arise when we contemplate the nature of existence, the meaning of human life, and the values by which we live. But the value of a philosophical education goes far beyond, and prepares our students for a successful life beyond the campus. We train our students to think deeply and imaginatively, to solve problems logically, to argue respectfully and persuasively, and to write rigorous arguments that meet the highest standards of reasoning. These are skills that are invaluable in every aspect of life, and that are beneficial in every career. In fact, contrary to popular belief, independent statistics show that philosophy majors are among the most successful after leaving college.
What can you do with Philosophy?
Recent Muhlenberg philosophy alumni have entered law, medicine, theatre, education, business, finance, and the ministry, among other fields. Our majors have also gained employment in companies such as Bloomberg, Cigna, and DHL.