Department of Philosophy

Students often select majors based on career prospects, but sometimes students simply fall in love with a particular discipline, like philosophy. They feel the excitement of comparing different visions of the good life, or debating how to make sense of beauty or considering how much science can explain about human behavior. So they choose philosophy, sometimes as a second major, for the love of it.

Many who do double major find intriguing connection between the two.  Thus they develop culminating projects that incorporate philosophical insights related to their other major.  One student wrote a senior thesis on democracy that counted toward international relations and philosophy;  another’s thesis on the concept of moral responsibility will join neuroscience and philosophy. Sometimes students simply use philosophical insights and methods in other areas. One applied philosophical discussions of human rights in a thesis for international relations and Asian studies.

For those who have experienced the joys of philosophical reflection, none of this is surprising.   As our mission statement proclaims, the Lake Forest College Philosophy Department seeks not only to develop the critical reasoning skills essential for most careers but to foster creativity so that students can develop their own insights and arguments.  Philosophical reflection plays central role in the liberal arts—and thus in human life.  But Philosophy also has a subversive role, raising, as Socrates did long ago, essential questions that challenge complacency and encourage reflection on personal and community problems.

And philosophy raises central questions about the nature of thinking itself. Consider Damon Horowitz’ transition from a practicing technologist working on artificial intelligence to a philosopher:

“And, slowly, I realized that the questions I was asking were philosophical questions—about the nature of thought, the structure of language, the grounds of meaning. So if I really hoped to make major progress in AI, the best place to do this wouldn’t be another AI lab. If I really wanted to build a better thinker, I should go study philosophy.  Thus, about a decade ago, I quit my technology job to get a Ph.D. in philosophy. And that was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

In our coursework, we emphasize the variety of philosophical visions. To be sure, the traditional Western theories remain a focus, but we also cover Asian approaches and Africana outlooks. Philosophy courses also relate to many other subjects on campus, from law to business to science to art. We explore a range of human challenges, from social justice to neuroscience. Further, the major is designed to allow flexibility, so that students can, in their undergraduate studies, make connections to other interests.

Though philosophy does much more than prepare students for careers, the skills and insights sharpened through philosophical training are invaluable in most professions. Find out about our opportunities after graduation

Department News

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    Alexis Yusim ’15 found a good career fit for her liberal arts education—weeks before Commencement.
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    John Guen-Murray ’13 was admitted to the George Washington University acclaimed Elliott School of International Affairs.
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Faculty

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Internships

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Alumni

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