Why Study Philosophy?

"If I were to start again as an undergraduate, I would major in philosophy,” said Matthew Goldstein, the CUNY chancellor, who majored in mathematics and statistics. “I think that subject is really at the core of just about everything we do. If you study humanities or political systems or sciences in general, philosophy is really the mother ship from which all of these disciplines grow." (New York Times, 4/6/08)

Philosophy deals with the deepest questions that engage all reflective people: What is the good life? What makes for a meaningful life? What is justice? What sort of allegiance should I have to my nation? Is there a moral obligation to obey the law? What are the proper roles of social and political organizations? Why should we be moral? Does obeying the rules of morality help us live better? Do human beings have free will? Is the mind just the brain? Does God exist? What is the difference between knowledge and mere opinion, reality and illusion? Can we distinguish rational from irrational beliefs? What are the limits of human knowledge?

Through the study of philosophy, students engage with classic texts and fundamental ideas. Students learn how to analyze problems, construct systematic arguments, develop their own viewpoints, and communicate their thoughts clearly and effectively. In this way, the study of philosophy is very practical. Because philosophy teaches students how to analyze difficult problems, philosophy majors consistently have among the highest scores on any graduate school exam (LSAT, GMAT, GRE). Students who graduate with a degree in philosophy pursue further study and careers in business, public affairs, law, and many other fields.