Many students (or parents) ask the practical question: What can you do with philosophy? Our answer here at UNC Charlotte is that you can do anything with philosophy that you can do without it, but with philosophy you can do anything better. Here’s why.
A philosophy major is perfect by itself because you can learn critical thinking skills and also reflect on big questions in life – in ethics, religion, aesthetics, politics and other valuble subjects.The history of philosophy is a record of people’s attempts to combine these skills and questions in hopes of obtaining some answers. Majoring in philosophy is a chance to enter into conversations with these philosophers and your fellow students with shared interests in philosophy’s relevance to today’s global world.
This combined critical/value course of study is also an invaluable addition to any other field, which is why so many philosophy students are double majors. Which other fields? Almost any other. If you look at the testimonials at the bottom of this page, for example you’ll see how dozens of UNC Charlotte faculty in all sorts of disciplines studied philosophy earlier in their lives and now think that philosophy was vital to their successes. They come from biology, psychology, physics, English and many other subjects and what they all have in common is an appreciation for the value of philosophy.
Another, more professional reason why you should all study philosophy is that it provides perfect preparation for the entrance exams required for law, medicine, business, computer science, or engineering schools, or graduate school in the humanities. Proof of this is that philosophy majors perform among the top 10, often top 5, on most of the exams such as LSAT, MCAT, GRE and the like. So you don’t have to become a doctor of philosophy (a Ph.D) but you can become an ethical lawyer, or an engineer or computer scientist who has better understanding of the world. The combinations are limited only by your imagination.
But why do philosophy majors perform so well on these tests? Well, most if not all have the basic breakdown between math and verbal skills. You’ll certainly do well in math if you’re a math major or well in English if that is your field. But philosophy offers math skills through logic and critical thinking, plus verbal skills because writing and discussing are vital to the study of philosophy. In short, philosophy offers you a unique combination of critical thinking and writing skills useful in almost any profession, starting with the entrance exams.
So, whether you want to read classic or contemporary philosophers because you’ve moved by value questions or recognize the importance of critical thinking regardless of you other major, you should still consider becoming a philosophy major. You have the option of having a traditional or applied concentration, depending upon whether you are interested in more historical or applied issues- its philosophy either way.
Please come to visit us in WINNINGHAM 103, if you are interested in becoming a philosophy major or minor. It’ll change your life–academic and personal.
Philosophy critically examines our most basic beliefs about the world and our place in it. Inquiry in philosophy grapples with such basic questions as “Can we be sure of our beliefs?” “What are the grounds for correct judgments?” “How do we distinguish between right and wrong?” “What is a person?” “Are we free or causally determined?” “Is there a God?”
Philosophy strives to develop the ability to reason clearly, to distinguish between good and bad arguments, to navigate through a complicated maze of questions, to clarify puzzling concepts, and to use intelligence and logic in situations ruled all too often by prejudices. It helps one understand points of view in a variety of controversies. Philosophy can help expand a student’s horizons by enabling him or her to see beyond the social, political and economic world as it presently exists and develop a controlled but imaginative awareness of alternatives. Philosophy makes available to the student a significant portion of the world’s great literature, and makes him or her aware of the extent to which scientists, artists, poets, educators and theologians have depended upon philosophical thought and argument in the course of their own development.
The foregoing suggest the multiplicity of links between philosophy and other disciplines and professions such as the sciences, the arts, medicine and law. Philosophy serves to place the study of such disciplines within a broader intellectual perspective and provides logical and analytical tools for understanding them. Since philosophy can enter into so many different programs, philosophical studies may be pursued as an intrinsic component of any liberal or professional education.
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