What is Philosophy?
Philosophy literally means the love of wisdom. To love wisdom is to take seriously your most profound questions, to refuse to accept blindly the appearances of things and to reflect on the standards offered to you by the surrounding culture.
A major in philosophy teaches you to read, think, and converse at the highest and deepest levels. It liberates you from being intimidated by difficult ideas. It also puts you into contact with some of the greatest minds of our own and other cultures, while also promoting your capacity to discover new thinkers and ideas beyond the classroom.
Saint Vincent College allows you to major in philosophy with flexible concentration options. We welcome students interested in a philosophy minor. But we also encourage you just to take a few of our courses and see what we have to contribute to the liberation that ought to be at the heart of your liberal arts education.
Philosophical training develops skills of thinking, reading and writing well, which will be of tremendous value in seeking jobs in a wide range of fields including business, education and politics. Some of our majors do pursue graduate study in philosophy, but this is not the only possibility.
Philosophy majors do very well in applying to law school and medical school. They consistently earn some of the highest scores on graduate school entrance exams.
Having chosen to pursue a degree in philosophy, each student will meet with his or her adviser to review the work of the previous semester. This is generally done each January for the previous fall semester and in September for the previous spring semester.
As a part of this review, students will evaluate their own performance in a guided, written statement. This statement functions primarily as a resume of work in the major, but extra-departmental work may also be assessed. During the review, students present two pieces of written work from the previous semester, at least one of which will be from a philosophy course (provided that the student had taken a course in the field the previous semester).
Each philosophy major is required to complete a Senior Capstone Project during their junior or senior year at the college. There are two options for the project: a senior thesis or a senior capstone examination. The student and their faculty adviser will decide which of these two options are appropriate based on each student's aims, interests and plans after graduation.
Students work with their faculty advisers to form a Senior Thesis or Examination Committee and choose a topic for the project. The student, with the guidance of the committee, plans the project and carries out the basic research.
Students who choose the capstone exam will take the exam at the end of the semester in which they are enrolled in PL 440 Senior Capstone Exam. A passing grade completes this project; a failing grade requires the student to retake the course and the exam the following semester.
Students who choose the senior thesis will complete a polished draft of the thesis, to be submitted to the Committee for comments, during the semester in which they are enrolled in PL 450 Senior Thesis. The Thesis Committee evaluates the finished Senior Thesis. By the last week of classes before graduation, each student will give an oral presentation of the project to departmental faculty and students, responding to questions and comments.
Graduates with a philosophy degree have a sound historical knowledge of the field and are able to critically engage the world with solid analytic abilities and imaginative, synthetic solutions to problems which present themselves. They are prepared to offer both abstract analyses as well as concrete proposals. They are independent learners and prepared to begin graduate studies in the humanities, social sciences or law.
Examples of our graduates’ vocational paths:
Examples of Graduate Programs our Alumni Have Attended:
“I was a science major and I knew that a life of lab work was not going to be as meaningful to me as tackling more complex questions of sustainability, out in the field. Also, sustainability practice requires pointing a critical lens at the status quo to see which operations are worth saving and which are problematic. Because no cases are alike in all ways, sustainability requires adapting pitches and solutions to new audiences and new cases. The theoretical work in philosophy classes (especially ethics) gave me a strong foundation to inform my later work in business and applied research. I always portray sustainability as philosophy in action.”
~Jacob Bethem (currently completing his PhD in Sustainability at Arizona State University)
“I invented the position I have, and I help businesses identify the 'true' value that they offer, capture that value in a message they can share with others, and then reach the people who stand to benefit the most from what they offer. I never would have imagined myself in a field like this, but studying philosophy inadvertently led me to it. I did not do focused study in computer science, marketing, or business, but I found that the skills I learned in philosophy allowed me to teach myself what I needed to know once I settled on a career. By applying the things I learned at St. Vincent, I've been able to completely change the way the people I've worked with approach their businesses for the better.”
~Dylan Heagy, Marketing Consultant (Self-Employed)
“"What is the law?" and "What is law?" are two very different questions. The former is asked of lawyers on a daily basis, as clients want to know the laws that apply to their cases. The latter requires a philosophical investigation into the nature of law in general. Studying philosophy has made me a better lawyer because the answer to what the law is in any particular case depends vitally on the answer to what the law is in general.”
~Ryan Rozanksi, JD (Quarles & Brady LLP, Phoenix, AZ)
Students who complete the Philosophy program may be employed or continue their education as:
The Philosophy Department helps its students achieve the following goals: