Department of Philosophy

The philosophy department has a number of ways for prospective and current students to get involved.

If the Bio-ethics Bowl doesn’t interest you, then perhaps one of the many social justice panels hosted by the Ethics Center will.

Additionally, the Philosophy Club meets every other week from noon to 1:00 p.m. in Pierson Room A during the Fall and Spring semesters.

What is philosophy?

Philosophy is the critical study of knowledge and understanding. It is applicable to both the professional and to every day life. Similarly important is the role of philosophy in academia.

What will we be studying?

Socrates says it best when he states that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” As such, examined in our courses are the important questions in life: What does it mean to be human? How can we be moral agents and what is good and bad behavior? How do we determine what is just and fair? That’s just to start.

Why choose philosophy?

Descartes is well known for the phrase “I think, therefore I am.” By the time a student is considering college, they’ve heard this. What they haven’t done, however, is understood it. Descartes questioned whether the reality he perceived could merely be a dream and he decided that we humans are thinking beings, and the only evidence that we actually exist is that we have thoughts. The philosopher is just that; a thinker. He thinks with purpose, as opposed to having thoughts.

The philosopher challenges modernity, postmodernism, traditional gender roles, cultural biases, and established public policy. He questions the very fabric of society and works to make it better. He learns to think critically and to interpret complex, abstract concepts.

What does a philosophy degree do for me?

One common misconception is that a philosophy degree means you’re stuck becoming an academic professor. Other career paths include law, health care, politics and government, business, information technology, science, and more. A student could choose a career in ethics and join nearly any industry. Not to mention that philosophy students score higher than any other major in the verbal & analytical/writing sections on the GRE.

What should be understood is that there isn’t a single philosophy. There are five subcategories:

  • Metaphysics
  • Epistemology
  • Aesthetics
  • Ethics
  • Logic

In addition to the five subcategories, there are even more specific branches:

  • Philosophy of mind
  • Philosophy of language
  • Philosophy of math
  • Political philosophy
  • Philosophy of law
  • etc…

In summary:

The philosophy curriculum at Lake Forest College highlights the discipline’s central and critical role:

1. We explore the immense range of philosophical concerns.
2. We stress the practical as well as the intrinsic value of philosophical inquiry.
3. We recognize the value of philosophical training for a broad range of careers. 

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