Why Study Philosophy?

There are two very obvious reasons why you should study philosophy: first, it’s awesome. Second, it will make your brain really, really smart.  To see why these things are true, let’s consider:

What is Philosophy, anyway?

Philosophy is a systematic reflection on the basic questions which have excited human curiosity and are the object of profound concern: where we come from, what we ought to do, what we may hope for, who we really are. As such, the study of philosophy leads students to a healthy critique of personal and social beliefs, prejudices, and presuppositions by confronting the diversity of views which is so conspicuous in the history of philosophy, thereby preparing them to develop their choices in a pluralistic society.
Moreover, as philosophy is value-oriented, it complements those departments which in this regard are necessarily “neutral.” Like literature and art, but in a unique manner, it is capable of developing in a person a more sensitive, more appreciative attitude toward life. By its breadth, it can compensate for the specialization which is more and more required by the needs of our scientific age. In fact, inasmuch as philosophy takes all human experience for its province, it can easily constitute the integrating principle in a student’s entire intellectual life.

Why Study Philosophy?

For students who desire to make philosophy their life work, the undergraduate curriculum offered here can be the first major step toward acquiring competence in philosophy necessary for those who would teach it or, through research and sustained reflection, seek to push forward the frontiers of human understanding.  For most students, however, philosophy is profitable inasmuch as it can give valuable background and support for specialized work in various fields such as law, history, literature, theology, as well as the social and the natural sciences. In fact, students who have no intention of making a career of philosophy may very well choose to major in it as a good foundation for any career, and above all, as an excellent preparation for a richer, more human existence. Such students may prefer to double major in philosophy and some other field. A double major is quite practical, and the departments concerned will work out the details in such a way as not to overburden the students who accept this challenge. In any event, students may deepen their understanding of the great questions and augment their powers of reflection by electing one or more courses in philosophy over and above the general requirements of nine semester hours.

Why Study Logic?

Every day we make decisions: about our lives, whom we should date or marry, which government policies we should endorse, about how to run our households or our businesses. Those decisions, if they are good ones, are based on reasons. Logic is the study of good reasoning, the study of the process of using good reasons to reach, what we hope, is the best conclusion available to us. As such, there is probably no area of study that is of greater use to us than the study of logic. As the study of good reasoning, it can be applied to every domain in which we use reason, virtually every area of life.  The study of the science of logic has been shown to increase intellectual aptitude and achievement scores, such as IQ scores, the SAT and ACT, the GRE and especially the LSAT. In this latter regard, it might be noted that Philosophy majors, who are more thoroughly trained in logic, have the highest combined scores on the GRE of any major.  Although we cannot definitively say that logic is the principal cause of that achievement, given that there are so many other factors involved, it seems plausible that the rigorous study of good reasoning would be a major contributing factor. It should be an essential part of every curriculum, not just in college, but in grammar and high schools as well.

SHC Students Speak:

Choosing to study Philosophy over my original major of Business has had a profound impact on my life and the way I view the world. I also frequently make a point to tell people that studying Philosophy was one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only had my major taught me how to think and how to write, it has also taught me the importance of being informed of every side of an argument. The study of philosophy enables you to think outside the box and view the world through a different lens. Philosophy gives you the tools that enable you to identify with people who have different opinions as well as helping you to form your own, more concrete world view. Studying philosophy has undoubtedly been a life-changing choice that not only impacted my academic ventures in a positive way, but also my life in general.

— Alexis Esneault, class of ‘16

Philosophy helps us understand the power of ideas as well as the diversity and depth of ideas throughout history and the world. Consequently, through philosophy, I have learned some essential skills for my time at Spring Hill College as well as my future: how to further open my mind to new ideas, how to think more critically about ideas both new and old, and how to communicate ideas and arguments clearly and strongly. A serious study in philosophy opens so many doors in school, society, and the future.

— Jeremy Buckner, class of ‘15

I greatly enjoyed studying philosophy at Spring Hill. Since starting law school I have been pleasantly surprised at how prepared I am in relation to my classmates. The philosophy department at Spring Hill helped in the development of my critical thinking skills and my ability to read and understand difficult texts. Studying philosophy showed me that more often than not there is more than one answer or theory to life's great questions. Knowing that things are not always so black and white will undoubtedly aid me in law school and in my future career.

— Katelyn Pierce, class of ‘14

I now attend Mississippi College Law School, which is where philosophy comes in. After I decided against pre-med, which many of you shall do, I went into political science and philosophy. I always enjoyed reading the ancient philosophers and philosophical texts. Moreover, philosophy has played a huge role in my academic career. I would advise any student majoring in anything to at least minor in philosophy. Here's why:

1)   The study of philosophy is difficult. Really, it’s hard to understand, aggravating to read, and even harder to apply. However, you learn how to get through difficult readings, have Socratic discussions (special to law school), and use methods to break down complex concepts.

2)   Philosophy teaches you foundations of literally every other subject. In political science and law you will often see Aristotle, Bentham, Plato, Marx, and so on. You learn so much about why and how the philosophers thought and reasoned it often makes your other classes much easier.

3)   Philosophy majors often score higher on the LSAT and the GRE. Again, you learn how to quickly read and break down complex difficult material when you've read Aristotle and Plato (and so many others) for four years.

Finally, I feel like I became a better person with my philosophy background. I learned about equality, broke stereotypes, and grew as a man in ways I could never imagine from my education. That being said good luck, welcome to SHC, and may the force be with you!

— Jonathan Barlow, class of ‘14

Rather than teaching its students a specific topic, philosophy teaches a deeper style of thinking, and then applies it to an array of questions asked by human beings throughout our history. Through this process, philosophy has taught me how to listen, ask questions and learn without biases and with a focus on rationality. These skills provide a constant reminder that I do not have all the answers, but what is important is that I seek out understanding.

— Bennett Champagne, class of ‘15

Many of my classes, but philosophy, in particular, has taught me to change the way I think. I’ve altered my perception on a lot of things, which was essential to my growth as a person. Existentialism also taught me even more about myself and my religious self. Honestly, if I hadn't taken the classes so late, I would have made philosophy my minor at SHC.

 — Twarner Witherspoon, class of ‘15

I knew that I wanted to minor in philosophy even before I finished introductory logic. For me, it was an opportunity to explore ideas that I had never really been exposed to before, and throughout my classes I was able to evaluate some of the most important questions and debates there are. The ultimate objective was always just to think, and because of that I was able to come to my own conclusions to issues that define who I am. As a scientist, being able to explain utilitarianism or virtue theory might not be terribly useful to me, but understanding those ideas and others like them have allowed me to form my own educated opinions. And that is invaluable.

 — James Kizziah, class of ‘15