What is Philosophy?
Philosophy deals with a range of fundamental questions. How
are individual and community related? How should humans interact with
the natural world? How should a person live? Generally speaking, what
kinds of things can be known and what things are just matters of
opinion? The methods philosophers employ in addressing such questions
include careful analysis of existing opinions and their implications,
free speculation about possibilities of all sorts and rigorous critical
reasoning to choose among theories.
The activity of philosophy is vital to liberal education.
Since a primary purpose of liberal education is the development of a
person, philosophical reflection on the nature and purpose of a good
life is an essential component. Furthermore, when we attempt to answer
some of the important questions that fall outside the special sciences,
we engage in philosophy.
If we ask, for example, how the sciences obtain reliable
knowledge, or whether there are meaningful questions that the sciences
cannot answer, we engage in philosophical thought. We engage in
philosophy when we ask about the implications of scientific knowledge
for our common-sense understanding of the world — when we ask, for
example, how our belief in individual freedom and responsibility can be
reconciled with the scientific presumption of determinism. Thus it is
through philosophy that a student synthesizes the many facets of life
and education into a personal whole. Finally, the methods of philosophy
— questioning of common assumptions, analysis of ideas and theories,
free speculation combined with reasoned criticism — develop abilities
that are themselves among the chief aims of liberal education.
The philosophy department program serves as an excellent
focus for liberal education. Although some majors go on to
distinguished graduate schools, most make use of their philosophical
training in other pursuits. We believe that a student becomes liberally
educated not primarily by the accretion of information, but by
grappling with fundamental questions about life and learning.
Philosophy has a rich history of alternative answers to these
questions, and we believe that by understanding these varied answers
students are better able to formulate their own philosophies. Our
curriculum aims at progressive development of mind and character by
increasing students’ awareness of questions fundamental to a thoughtful
life, and by developing the capacity for free, creative, critical
thought and action.
Working in Philosophy
Characteristics and Skills Necessary for Success
- Analytical and organizational skills
- Logical thinking
- Strong sense of curiosity and imagination
- Good communication skills
Click HERE for a table on Career Areas, Employers, and Strategies for Employment
Sample Job Titles
Learning More About Philosophy
- Visit the Career Services office and check out our Career Resource Library which includes:
- Great Jobs for Philosophy Majors
- Visit the SLU Philosophy Department website
- Check out Philosophy course descriptions in the Catalog
- Talk with a professor in Philosophy about the major. Click here for a list of possible questions to ask.
- Perform an informational interview with a professional in the field. Click here for information on how to find a professional, contacting them, and a list of possible questions.
- Get connected with SLU alum in the field through SAINTSLink, participate in Shadow-a-Saint or complete an Internship.
Related Majors and Minors at SLU