Philosophy

Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and experience teaches us that wisdom comes from asking questions. This is what we do in philosophy. In asking questions we are working in the spirit of Socrates who famously claimed, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates also called himself a "gadfly" disturbing the state, and the questions we ask may make others and ourselves uncomfortable. Our task is to help people have the courage to think critically and for themselves and to learn to make good decisions in muddled and ambiguous conditions.

What kinds of questions do we ask? These are some examples:

  • What is the meaning of life? How have we answered this question in the past? How do we answer it in different cultures and as differing people today?
  • Who are we as human beings? Can we be reduced to complicated machines, or are we something more?
  • What does it mean to think? Are there rules for good thinking? Why bother to think?
  • Is belief in God reasonable? How can belief in God be defended given the existence of evil?
  • How should we live? What makes our actions moral or immoral? What is the best way for us to live together?

The Philosophy Department is deeply committed to the College's mission of providing intellectual and moral preparation for responsible living and meaningful work in the context of our Catholic Benedictine heritage. In a particular way we try to express the Benedictine values of community, hospitality, respect, stewardship, and above all, love of learning in our work together. We also are at the heart of liberal education with its goals of critical thinking, intellectual integrity, aesthetic appreciation, and intellectual curiosity.