About the Department

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The Philosophy department seeks to help students develop skills and acquire knowledge needed to participate in the ongoing philosophical discussions concerning important questions about truth, value, meaning, and reality. Though the department is small, it reaches out to a broad audience that includes students of all disciplines.

Many students find their introduction to philosophy through the Search or Life programs. In Search, philosophical texts are an integral part of the curriculum, playing especially important roles in defining the intellectual life of the Greeks, Romans, and Christians (in the first year), and of the moderns, Germans, and existentialist thinkers (in the second year). In Life, individual philosophy courses (e.g., Medieval Philosophy, Early Modern Philosophy, and Ethics) may be taken to complete requirements for the second year. The mission of the department is defined as follows:

  • To engage students with a variety of views on and methodologies for exploring important questions and issues concerning the fundamental nature of reality, values and human obligations, truth and meaning, and the nature and limits of human understanding. 
  • To help students cultivate the critical, creative, evaluative, and synthetic skills required to formulate reasoned views on these issues and to subject their views to ongoing reflection. 

To realize this mission, the department has the following goals:

  1. To introduce students to important texts (primarily in the western philosophical tradition) dealing with questions and issues concerning the fundamental nature of reality, values and human obligations, the source(s) of truth and meaning, and the nature and limits of human understanding.  
  2. To help students develop and continually refine their critical thinking skills, whether applied to their own work or that of others.  
  3. Through dialogue, lectures, written assignments, and responses to written assignments, to
    1. stimulate students’ interest in the above questions and issues, and
    2. to help students cultivate the critical, creative, evaluative, and synthetic skills required to formulate reasoned views on these issues and to subject their views to ongoing reflection.
  4. To encourage students to draw on their studies in philosophy as well as their studies in other disciplines to formulate a comprehensive personal philosophy.