Philosophy as an Intellectual, Personal, and Spiritual Choice
Most will choose to study philosophy for the love of philosophy itself.
Philosophy engages the preeminent questions of humanity, including: What does it mean to be? Is there a purpose for all things? What is the meaning of my life? What is good and evil? How ought we to act? What is the nature of reality? Are there limits to human knowledge? How can we prove that God exists? Do we have free will? How does language form or express meaning? What methods make science successful? How should society be organized? What is freedom?
Philosophy introduces you to the over 2,500 year-old conversation sparked by these (and other) questions. It also deals with issues of critical contemporary relevance, including: those of race and racism, gender equality, whether war can be just, the moral limits of science, bio-medical ethical dilemmas, and the purpose and nature of democracy. If these questions and ideas electrify you, you are made to be a philosophy major or minor.
Nobody is drawn to philosophy because they think it’s going to help them get into law school or pull a bigger paycheck over the long haul [although, it does do these things!] That’s simply a side effect. They’re initially drawn to the subject because they love it and see its intrinsic value.”
(Peter Groff, Chair of the Bucknell Philosophy Department, quoted in Michael Sigman, “Tech Leave you Cold? Major in Philosophy!” The Huffington Post, 10/29/2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-sigman/tech-leave-you-cold-major_b_4173592.html.)
What benefits does philosophy bring?
Philosophy cultivates your abilities to analyze challenging situations, carefully assess the possible outcomes, and solve problems effectively. It superbly teaches you to read, research, write, and speak clearly and with a high degree of sophistication. Honing your ability to think critically and creatively, philosophy trains you to ask the right questions and allows you to formulate strong arguments and present your ideas persuasively and with passionate adherence to truth and with a concern for value. Philosophy enriches your life right now and successfully prepares you for work in philosophy itself, law, medicine, business, government, religion, education, media, and more, and provides you with the skill set that allows you to create, adapt, and succeed in any personal and professional setting.
Why is philosophy different from other subjects?
In the philosophy classroom, the emphasis is shifted from rote memorization (a teacher’s depositing of facts into a passive student’s mind) to genuine dialogue with each other and with our civilization’s collective wisdom wherein close readings of challenging texts culminate in dynamic conversations, free exploration of ideas, and the creation of an atmosphere in which professors and students together grapple with critical and relevant issues.
“This feeling — a sense of wonder — is perfectly proper to a philosopher: philosophy has no other foundation, in fact.”
(Plato, Theaetetus, 155d.)
What is special about Belmont’s Department of Philosophy?
Belmont’s Philosophy Department is pluralistic and historic—unlike other schools, our professors specialize in diverse concentrations and offer the widest possible array of studies from Western to Eastern philosophy, ancient to contemporary, socio-political to ethical philosophy to ensure that we’ll appeal to your specific interests, whatever they may be.
Our department is second to none in fostering an intense close-knit community. Every Friday we host Philologoi, a philosophy discussion group wherein students raise the questions for a lively conversation in a free, open, and friendly atmosphere. And, if you want to keep the conversation going, at the end of every Philologoi anyone who can relocates to a local eatery with the professors to keep the stimulating conversation going. And, if that is still not enough philosophy for you, the philosophy majors regularly arrange evenings of philosophical conversation at their homes, afternoons in coffee shops, and even along jogging trails on early Nashville mornings. Belmont University is also home to one of the few undergraduate journals of philosophy in the nation, also named Philologoi. This student-run journal invites submissions from undergraduate philosophy majors from around the world, assesses them, and chooses a select few for publication each year. The students decide on the papers, how the journal will look, and, in turn, receive unique and invaluable editing and publishing experience. The department also offers a wide array of honors and awards celebrating a student’s contributions to the philosophical community, including the annual Stacy Awalt Essay Competition and The Virginia Osborn Outstanding Philosophy Student Award plus a chapter of Phi Sigma Tau, the nationally recognized philosophy honor society.
Our professors are dedicated to ensuring your academic success and your successful transition to life after graduation—from helping you to apply to graduate schools, finding your best career path, to writing letters of recommendation, our professors will help you every step of the way.
Philosophy helps you find meaning and value in life.
This aid may come from intense studies of the philosophy of mind (engaging debates about the necessary connections between philosophy and the neurosciences speaks to knowing the self), ethics (learning how to think through the most decisive issues in society and personal beliefs about character, motivations, and consequences), philosophy of religion (seeking to understand what it is that draws humanity to religion, and the nature of that path to faith), ancient philosophy (exploring the activities of the cultivation of the soul, pursuits of happiness, the well lived life, stoicism, and skepticism), the existentialist tradition (emphasizing the necessity of making your life meaning by your practical actions), Chinese philosophy (learning about the harmony of Tao and importance of piety and ritual), and contemporary studies into social, political, and critical theory (exploring ideas of justice and commercial influence versus authenticity).
Considering meaning and value religiously, philosophy aids your reflection better than any other: the greatest Christian scholars of all times were philosophers themselves who drew on the earliest philosophers and religious thought remains at the forefront of philosophy inquiry and various branches of philosophy directly deal with issues critical to religious and spiritual development, especially learning about the arguments for God’s existence and nature, arguments about free will and those between evolution and creation, the study of ethics, and more.
Considering meaning and value spiritually and/or ethically, philosophy, again, is of enormous aid: philosophy’s resounding coda is “know thyself;” its practice is one that cultivates character through the active encouragement of discerning the personal dimension of theoretical truths.
Philosophy is an eminently valuable pursuit in itself—one worthy of pursuing, not as a means to do or get something else, but for its own sake—but, it is also resoundingly valuable in practice. Click here to learn about why philosophy is a practical choice.