Why study philosophy?

What is philosophy?

Here is a partial list of some of the main subject areas in philosophy along with examples of the sorts of questions that are representative of each area:

Metaphysics: What am I? What makes me the same person even though I am different from what I was? Can there be two distinct things that are exactly the same in every respect? What does it mean for one thing to be the cause of another?

Philosophy of mind: What is a mind? Is a mind different from a brain, and if so, how? If we eventually design a computer that acts like us in every way, does it have a mind?

Epistemology, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mathematics: Does all our knowledge come from experience of the world? Are there truths we can verify without using experience? What is the nature and ground of mathematical truths? How can we tell the difference between reality and illusion?

Ethics and political philosophy: Do we act freely? If we do not, are we morally responsible for our actions? How can moral responsibility be understood in relation to physical science or psychology? What roles do reason and passion play in human life? What relationship is there between an action's being right and its producing good consequences? What relationship, if any, is there between being happy and being morally worthy? What is the difference between just and unjust political institutions? What moral obligations do people have to one another?

Aesthetics: What standards do we use when we assess a work of art? How do these standards compare with those used in other sorts of evaluation? What is the connection here with knowledge and morality?

Why study philosophy?

This page has lots of good answers to that question. For more information, download the Acadia Philosophy Department brochure here.

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