Frequently Asked Questions About Philosophy
Why is philosophy relevant?
Philosophy is the foundation of every other field of study. Economics, history, government, mathematics, language, and the sciences all make specific assumptions about the universe and our place in it. Historically, as specific disciplines developed, they branched off from philosophy, but retained their core theoretical stances. Philosophy examines the basis of the reasoning for each of these fields, discovering the strengths and weaknesses of each. For instance, in economics, we can ask questions about the justice of resource distribution - is poverty inevitable or a necessary part of the human condition? In history, we can explore questions of causation, perspective, and approaches in analysis (e.g., historiography). Modern American government stems directly from the political philosophy of the European Enlightenment and Native American populations. Mathematics makes assumptions about number sets, linguistics makes assumptions about symbolic representation, biology is predicated on governing paradigms like evolution, etc. All of these are reasonable subjects of debate and discussion, precisely because of the warrants contained in each position.
What do you do with a philosophy major?
The easy response is "Anything you want," but there is more to it. Aside from the benefits of an education in philosophy, the analytical skills taught in philosophy are applicable to many different fields and professions. The ability to reason deductively and inductively, to explore multiple avenues of problem solving, and understand the fundamental assumptions we make about the world around us are critical. No other major will challenge your basic assumptions more, or teach you more about yourself.
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