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 connections 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.
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 opportunities after graduation.
Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience. This week’s feature is from James McAuliffe ’18, a Philosophy and Environmental Studies major currently studying abroad in Tartu, Estonia.
Paul Henne ’11 presents his research and a career talk to current Philosophy students March 1