Philosophy–the love of wisdom–is the critical examination of the most fundamental questions humans ask: What is the nature of reality? How should people treat one another? Why do we value what we value? What is knowledge and how do we know whether we have it? How do we decide between competing theories on such issues? These questions, and others like them, are basic to serious study in any field. While everyone has beliefs about these matters, the goal of philosophy is to help students improve their consideration of issues by examining the reasons they and others have for thinking as they do. By increasing the care with which they reconsider ideas, philosophy students deepen their understanding of themselves, others, and the questions and answers they formulate.
Philosophy is central to the education of students preparing for professions in which large questions are important. Philosophy students often are interested in law, business, medicine, theology, teaching, and writing. Approximately one-third of Hamline philosophy majors pursue graduate study in philosophy in preparation to teach at the college or university level and another third go on to law schools. Many philosophy students major in another field and complete a philosophy major or minor to complement their study.
Opportunities for Nonmajors
Philosophy courses are designed for all students; only five courses in the department have prerequisites. Courses at the 1000-level provide students the opportunity to explore the field in a lecture/discussion format: general philosophy, logic, and ethics. Courses at the 3000-level examine philosophical issues in various disciplines in a seminar/discussion format: in three major historical periods - ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophy; in topical courses - philosophies of religion, art, science, law, society, and politics; and in seminars in philosophy on selected themes. In each case, students from various disciplines examine concepts fundamental to their particular areas of interest.
The goals of all philosophy courses are the same: to enhance students’ ability to think critically and systematically and to introduce students to the works of important philosophers and the fundamental questions of philosophy.
Upon recommendation of philosophy faculty during the junior year, senior philosophy majors are eligible to work toward departmental honors at graduation by successful completion and defense of a serious research and writing project in the form of a baccalaureate thesis.
Samuel Oluoch Imbo, professor, chair, Hanna Chair in Philosophy. BA 1985, University of Nairobi; MA 1990, PhD 1995, Purdue University. Social and political philosophy, African and comparative philosophy.
Stephen H. Kellert, professor. BA 1985, Yale University; MA 1989, PhD 1990, Northwestern University. Philosophy of science, epistemology.