The Greek philosopher Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. For more than 2,000 years, philosophy has been the source of the most intensely reflective, influential and argued versions of that examination. The concerns of philosophy range from the arts, the methods and foundations of the sciences, politics, education, and religion to complex questions relating to the meaning of reality, truth, values and the significance of human history. The study of philosophy is an essential dimension of a well-educated person.
Philosophy seeks to establish standards of evidence, provide rational methods of resolving conflicts, and create techniques for evaluating ideas and arguments. Philosophy develops the capacity to see the world from the perspective of other individuals and other cultures; it enhances one’s ability to perceive the relationships among the various fields of study; and it deepens one’s sense of the meaning and variety of human experience.
Toward these ends the program in philosophy at Texas A&M is structured to provide students with the skills necessary to appreciate more fully the central concerns of human existence and develop abilities in problem-solving, communication, persuasion, writing, and critical thinking.
Students, along with parents and friends, often assume that the only undergraduates who major in philosophy are those who intend to pursue graduate degrees in philosophy, theology and law. The breadth of skills developed, however, makes the study of philosophy appropriate for students entering professional fields such as medicine, business and education, and for those preparing for graduate work in the humanities or the social sciences.
It should be stressed that the non-academic value of a field of study must not be viewed mainly in terms of its contribution to obtaining one’s first job after graduation. Students are understandably preoccupied with getting their first job, but even from a narrow vocational point of view it would be short-sighted to concentrate on that at the expense of developing potential for success and advancement once hired. Factors leading to initial employment are not necessarily those that lead to promotions or beyond a first position. This is so because the needs of many employers alter with changes in social and economic patterns. It is therefore crucial to see beyond the specifics of a job description.
As this suggests, there are people trained in philosophy in just about every field. They have gone into not only such professions as teaching, medicine, and law, but also into computer science, management, publishing, sales, government service, criminal justice, public relations, and other fields.