Majors are introduced to the central questions and movements in the history of philosophy as a foundation for tackling today’s philosophical problems. Faculty have an unusually wide range of interests, including contemporary-analytic, 19th- and 20th-century continental and American philosophy.
What is Philosophy?
Courses in philosophy present ways of thinking about those
fundamental questions which continue to arise no matter how much we think we
know: What does it mean to be human? Is there a right way to live as a human?
Is there a right way to live together as a society? As a species? What is our
relationship to each other and to the earth? Is truth possible? What is
Philosophers see questions like these cutting across the
boundaries of science, art, politics, religion—crucial to all these areas yet
belonging to none of them—and demanding that we subject both our experiences
and our beliefs to critical scrutiny. Because it calls into question those
grounding beliefs we otherwise tend to take for granted, philosophy has always
been considered central to liberal education, whose point is to generate
citizens thoughtful about what is essential.
The philosophy program at Dickinson aims to educate our
students to be careful readers, critical reasoners, and finally, original thinkers
by 1) exploring significant and enduring philosophical problems through the
close reading of primary texts; and 2) acquiring and evaluating methods and
skills requisite to doing philosophy.
As philosophy touches on so many other fields of study, the
department strongly supports double
majors and interdisciplinary studies.
Members of our faculty contribute to Environmental Studies, Neuroscience, Policy
Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies.
The department also encourages philosophy majors to study abroad. Experience of another
culture is an excellent way of putting one's own assumptions into questions,
and many of our students spend their junior year in a Dickinson abroad program. While many choose to study in Norwich,
England, other majors have studied at universities all over the world: China,
Cameroon, and Australia, for example.
What can I do with a
major in Philosophy?
Because it couples rigor of thought with concern for all
aspects of the human condition, the study of philosophy is an excellent
foundation for public service, education, law, or policy-making. Philosophy is
an ideal grounding for any field which requires a creative but critical
approach to problem-solving, or an ability to get at the presuppositions which
underlie our public institutions and personal commitments.
Our undergraduate major provides a strong foundation for
those wishing to pursue graduate work in
philosophy. Our alumni have gone on to Ph.D. programs in such institutions as
Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Cincinnati,
Penn State University, Stony Brook University, and Vanderbilt University. Other
philosophy alumni have gone into law, medicine, teaching, or fields as diverse
as arts management, human ecology, architecture, corporate management, urban
planning, computer science, folklore, and film studies.
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