What Is Philosophy?
Philosophy is the rational inquiry into our most basic beliefs and values. Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” A philosopher’s examination is grounded on evidence, reasoning, and argument. We seek answers to questions such as: How should I live? • What is truth? • How is the mind related to the body? • Do we have free will? • What is justice? • How should we make ethical judgments when there seems to be no clear right or wrong answer? • Are we more likely to know what is real through reason or through the senses? • How am I related to the world and to others? • What is the value of art?
If you are a curious person who enjoys intellectual challenges, then you may find a philosophy classroom invigorating. Philosophers seek answers to questions that are not raised in other disciplines, or, answers which other disciplines have not yet been able to provide.
The Practical Value of Studying Philosophy
By studying philosophy, students develop powerful transferrable skills that pay off in a variety of professions—transferable skills such as logical reasoning • abstract conceptualization • problem solving and creative thinking • clear and persuasive writing • mental dexterity • and an ability to assess different perspectives and frameworks.
How do we know that this set of transferable skills pays off in a 21st-century knowledge economy? 2017–2018 earnings data show that the national median salary of Philosophy graduates is now higher than nearly every other major in the social sciences, humanities, and higher than many other majors in the university — higher than Psychology, Communications, Business Management & Marketing, Environmental Science, Nutrition Science, History, English, and so on. (See the data on Payscale. At the link, search “philosophy”.)
Which professions do philosophy graduates pursue? • Technology • Business • Law • Government • Advertising • Journalism • Teaching • Sales • Human Resources • Activism • Public Policy, and so on.
The philosophy major is also exceptional training for many post-graduate paths, such as law school. Philosophy majors perform extremely well on a variety of entrance tests for post-graduate and professional study. See “Graduate Study” at the bottom of the Careers page.
A Trivia Question
What do the co-founders of Wikipedia, PayPal, and LinkedIn have in common with two current Supreme Court Justices, and the President of France?
They all studied philosophy!
The philosophy club—run by philosophy majors—is a place of passion and curiosity, where students are welcome to explore a variety of topics in a fun, relaxed, and collaborative way. Come by and get a feel for our community. It will leave you with a new perspective on life. The club meets every Thursday, 2:00-4:00 p.m. in Schmitt Hall, 242 (the Philosophy seminar room). The club has recently discussed topics such as love, authenticity, Reddit, money, art, knowledge, truth, and the question—”What is a sandwich?”
Philosophy for Lunch
Philosophy for Lunch is a weekly event where students and professors close-read and discuss a few great passages of philosophy. Everyone is welcome! No preparation or previous knowledge of philosophy is needed. Recent sessions have focused on free speech, the gun debate, Aristotle on friendship, thought experiments, Foucault’s Panopticon, and so on.
Philosophy for Lunch Returns January 31, Thursday, 2019!
When? 11:45 AM–12:45 PM, Thursdays • Where? Schmitt Hall, Room 104 • Should I bring anything? Bring a beverage, and if you’re hungry, bring your actual lunch.
Our Philosophy Faculty
The philosophy faculty are dedicated teachers and productive scholars with expertise in many areas of philosophy, such as the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mind, phenomenology, ethics, political philosophy, the philosophy of art, and the history of philosophy. We take an active interest in our students’ academic careers.
The Philosophy Major and Minor
Our philosophy Major and Minor are flexible programs that enable students to take advantage of the interesting, shifting selection of courses we offer every semester. The philosophy major is 12 courses. The philosophy minor is 6 courses. Almost all of the courses students take in these programs are taught by full-time professors. One of the benefits of the size of our small department is that students get to know their professors as well as their fellow majors and minors. Almost all of our 200-level and 300-level philosophy courses are small seminars, with an average of 15–19 students.
Our Philosophy Courses
Every semester we offer an interesting selection of courses. In recent semesters we have offered courses such as Philosophy of Technology; Social and Political Philosophy; Philosophy of Biology; Theories of Action; Philosophy in Science Fiction; Philosophy of Mind; Philosophy of Race; Philosophy of Happiness; and Knowledge, Belief, and Truth. See the list of recent course offerings.
Donate to Montclair Philosophy
The Philosophy Department is committed to supporting students and providing quality lectures and events for both the campus and community, such as Philosophy for Lunch and Philosophy Talks. Your gift to the Philosophy Department will help support events and scholarships sponsored by the department.
To give online, check “other” as the designation and specify “Philosophy Department.”