Philosophy, inherited from the Ancient Greek tradition, literally means “love of wisdom.” If wisdom here means knowledge, then this is not informative of the distinct things philosophy does, as all disciplines at a university pursues knowledge. If wisdom means some kind of pretentious state above knowing, then philosophy, as a discipline, is aspiring to something that is also not unique to it.
So, philosophy, aspires to something else. A definition alludes philosophy, and that’s okay. In getting to understand philosophy, it’s best to ask some questions:
- Does God exist? And what if anything is God? How best do we come to know whether God exists? And how do we come to know God, if that’s possible?
- How best should we understand reality, our universe?
- There is a lot of disagreement about, not just whether God exists, but also about what God is all about. How are we to appropriate this disagreement?
- What can we know? To what extent are we privileged to knowing about the universe/reality? And what does knowledge, if it’s possible, consist of?
- Science is the paradigm of knowledge of at least since the modern era. But how do we know that the claims of science are constitutive of empirical knowledge?
- There are many self-proclaimed and institutionally acknowledged experts in this very knowledge-differentiating world. But what can we do to make sure that such experts know what they are talking (and writing) about?
- We now live in an online world, a world with computers and simulation. Are computers capable of thought? Are they capable of consciousness?
- How exactly should we distribute our global resources? What is a global resource? And what should we do with respect to global business practices in light of the answers to these questions?
- How should we understand human behavior? Should it be primarily understood in terms of a genetic/evolutionary paradigm? Or should it be understood in terms of cultural anthropology? Or if both, then how should we reconcile the relationship between the both?
- How exactly should we handle the relationship between morality, religion, science, and politics?
Yes, in taking courses in philosophy at Missouri S&T, you will work on tackling these questions. In minoring in philosophy, you will get a very good understanding of the background conditions needed for these questions. In majoring in philosophy here, you will come out with more questions (very refined) than you came in with. This is okay, as you will be looking at the world in a way that is open to the possibility that much of what is presented in experience is not obvious for coming to dogmatic judgment. Nevertheless, you will be able to discern the position of any given thinker/author, analyze it, evaluate it, and then come to a rather reasonable decision about it. This kind of skill will be rather useful, whether you continue to graduate school for business, law, medicine, or whether you go into industry (you are definitely needed and wanted), or philosophy or other humanities disciplines.
All undergraduate students in the philosophy program must complete the experiential learning requirement.
What students say
"My favorite philosophy course was Philosophy 345, The Philosophy of Science. This course takes the underlying principles of scientific endeavor to task, and applies a rigorous set of criteria to the process of inquiry. This is important, because after all, not all data leads to sound science. Astrology is the classic whipping-boy, and with good reason; simply collecting data and drawing inferences from that data cannot properly be called 'Science.' Astrology and other pseudosciences might talk a good game, but they easily crumble when under the microscope of Philosophy 345. I would absolutely recommend this course to any student who wants to develop a critical eye for truth and justified belief. Engineering students will find this course especially valuable, as they have immediate applications for this material. The world is full of people who will tell you untruths (for whatever reason), and you might be surprised to learn how little we really know about things that can often seem very certain and obvious!"
-Razmus Kerwin, B.S. in Technical Communication, 2012; M.S. Candidate in Technical Communication.