Philosophy began in wonder. And, at the end, when philosophic thought has done its best, the wonder remains.
- Alfred North Whitehead
Philosophers seek knowledge, but they seek a distinctive kind of knowledge, for they ask very general questions in order to identify very general truths. Whereas the scientist will ask, "What is this object?", the philosopher will instead ask, "What, in general, is an object?" And, when the judge asks, "Is this person responsible?", the philosopher will instead ask, "What, in general, is 'responsibility'?or, "What, in general, is a 'person'?"
Philosophers have pursued logic, or the study of good and bad reasoning, at least since the time of the ancient Greeks. "Logical thinking" has the sort of role and importance in philosophy that the "scientific method" has in the natural sciences.
One might say, simply, that philosophy is "applied logic"; it is logic applied specifically to the most general questions or issues about our thoughts and our existence.
Creative people who enjoy orderly and systematic approaches to problems are often drawn to philosophy, as are those who are disinclined simply to accept the assumptions upon which our beliefs and actions are based.
The student of philosophy seeks to uncover the assumptions underlying our understanding of the world and to subject those assumptions to careful scrutiny using the tools of logic. Thus, in doing philosophy, one asks such fundamental questions as, Can I really know anything about the world? What is my relationship to government and to society? Have I a free will? What is the relationship between the language I use and the world? In pursuing such questions systematically, one may approach the Socratic ideal of living the examined life: a life in which one attempts to arrive at those beliefs best supported by reason.
The precision of thought and expression that philosophy requires makes excellent preparation for a variety of careers. Those who do well in philosophy can expect to think more clearly and logically and to approach problems or issues more systematically. Philosophy students are encouraged to develop a clear, precise, and direct writing style. Increasingly, the ability to write in this fashion is valued by employers.
Philosophy majors are among the most successful law students, owing to philosophy's emphasis on analysis, argumentation, and evaluation. Analytical skills developed in philosophy are also useful in a variety of fields, such as computer programming, business, policy analysis, government, and teaching. The major also provides a sound foundation for transfer students intending upper division study in philosophy.
For further information, please contact Professor Roy Bauer at 714-459-5385.