Santa Clara University

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Why Study Philosophy

There are no worthy paths in life that do not require you to think

 

Aristotle"Philosophy" means "love of wisdom." Wisdom is not just knowledge but a sense of what knowledge is all about and an insight into the hidden presuppositions underlying the way we look at ourselves and the rest of the world. The wise person understands how things stand to one another in importance. Philosophy begins in wonder—wonder at the world, wonder most of all at the human person. And after philosophical reflection the wonder remains, even though it is wiser. For there is nothing on earth more wonderful than human beings, and the ancient Greek command "Know thyself!" begins a quest that lasts a lifetime.

The study of philosophy has always been of serious interest to human beings. In addition, in any field—from business, to medicine, to law, to teaching, to computer programming and civil engineering—the ability to think clearly and creatively as well as the capacity to solve problems is central to professional success and personal satisfaction. Of course, while taking one or two philosophy classes does not guarantee success, a philosophy class is one of the best ways to work on the acquisition and development of:









Why Major in Philosophy?

The best and perhaps the only good reason to major in philosophy is that you have a serious interest in the subject. Nevertheless, it is possible to become dissuaded from majoring in philosophy by practical concerns: if I major in philosophy, can I go to medical school? business school? Will I be able to get a job? These are legitimate concerns and, for the person seriously interested in philosophy, the answers to these questions are very reassuring. Most philosophy majors do not go on to work in academic philosophy, and as suggested above majoring in philosophy will actually be a significant benefit in almost any career. Also, if you have other serious interests, many philosophy majors have a second major.

In addition to all the reasons for taking philosophy classes and minoring in philosophy listed above you should know that a recent comprehensive study of college students' scores on major tests used for admission to graduate and professional schools shows that students majoring in philosophy received scores substantially higher than the average on each of the tests studied. The study compared the scores of 550,000 college students who took the LSAT, GMAT, and the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE with data collected over the previous eighteen years. It was conducted by the National Institute of Education and reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Philosophy majors scored 10% better than political science majors on the LSAT. They also outperformed business majors by a margin of 15% on the GMAT and outperformed every other undergraduate major except mathematics. In another study of LSAT scores, Philosophy was tied for first with Economics among the 12 largest disciplines with an average score of 157.4.

 

Why Minor in Philosophy?

SocratesWhile honing the skills noted above with one or two elective philosophy classes can help advance a wide variety of personal and professional goals, adding philosophy to your undergraduate program in a more significant way will allow for the time and practice necessary to develop them. Every reason for taking a philosophy course is a reason for minoring in philosophy. Philosophy covers a very broad range of academic and professional concerns: whatever your major or your personal or your career interests, you can be sure that philosophy touches upon them in some way. A minor in philosophy gives you the opportunity to further explore the connections between philosophy and other disciplines, and to become acquainted with issues and figures of special interest to the discipline of philosophy. Information on minoring in Philosophy is available at the Department Office (Kenna 200) and at Department Programs.




 

 

Emphasis in Pre-Law

The Pre-Law Emphasis is intended to enhance any student’s abilities in analytic reasoning and conceptual investigation (abilities central to success on the LSAT, in law school, and later in the practice of law). The Pre-Law Emphasis may be taken as part of a philosophy major, as part of a minor, or the emphasis may be taken by itself. Completion of the Pre-Law Emphasis will be noted on a student's transcript Pre-Law Emphasis Description.

 

Emphasis in Ethics




The Ethics Emphasis is also available to all undergraduate students and complements all majors. It explores the great and enduring questions regarding morality, the good life, the virtues, social responsibility, justice, rights, duties, the relationship between ethics and the law, and the moral nature of  community. Completion of the Ethics Emphasis will be noted on a student's transcript. Ethics Emphasis Description.






Philosophy Majors in Various Fields

Umberto Eco
Novelist, Semiologist
Mircea Eliade
Religious Studies
Thomas Jefferson
U.S. President
Justice Stephen Breyer
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
Cardinal Bernardin
Late Cardinal of Chicago
William J. Bennett Author, Former Secretary of Education
Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Ture
Civil Rights Leader
Angela Davis
Social Activist and Political Philosopher
Carly Fiorina
CEO, Hewlett Packard
Robert McNamara
Head of the World Bank
Northrup Frye
English Scholar and Literary Critic
Michael Lerner
Rabbi, Editor/Publisher Tikkun Magazine
Iris Murdoch
Novelist
George Soros Financer
Pope John Paul II
Pope
Chaim Potok
Novelist
Albert Shanker
Former Head of New York's Teachers' Union
David Souter
Supreme Court Justice
C. Vann Woodward
Historian

Sources
Philosophy Students Score High on LSAT, GMAT & GRE
The President and Fellows of Harvard College
LSAT Scores of Economics Majors: The 2008-2009 Class Update
University of North Texas - Department of Economics
Famous Philosophy Majors – Graduates.
James B. Sauer Professor of Philosophy St. Mary’s University



 
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