What is Philosophy?


Philosophy fosters concern with the big picture and big questions:  Why are we here?  What can we know?  What are good and just ways to live? Philosophy seeks answers to these and other questions through the proper use of rational thought — the application of human intellect to the mysteries of the world around us.

Why major in Philosophy?

The best reason to major in philosophy would be that you love it.  (And contrariwise, if you have taken a philosophy course and found that you don’t love it, that’s about the best reason there could be for not majoring in it.)  But other reasons for majoring in philosophy are discussed in these:

  • A timely article about majoring in philosophy, doing fantastically well on the GRE, and other good things, see here.
  • An article on the most recent GREs, in which philosophy majors dominated, see here.
  • A journalist writes, “The most useful classes I took were all in philosophy” here.
  • A Forbes Magazine article about high-tech companies seeking philosophy majors, including an interview with the co-founder of “Slack Technologies” who explains what studying philosophy taught him: here.
  • An article in the Huffington Post about why philosophy is good for business: here.
  • A Forbes article about humanities degrees providing “great return on investment”, see here.
  • The earning power of philosophy majors is explored in a recent article here.


Distinctions in Philosophy:

  • Students have opportunities for collaborative research, presentations, and publication of research findings in national journals.
  • Allegheny’s philosophy program is distinctive in its focus on the development and interplay of modern science and the culture that supports it.  The program also focuses on issues of justice that pertain to globalization in business, politics, and culture.
  • The Senior Project demonstrates to employers and graduate schools the ability to complete a major original assignment.
  • Philosophy students often double major in political science or psychology. Philosophy is a significant focus within neuroscience world for many students at the undergraduate level as well as in graduate schools around the country.

Key benefits of a Philosophy major:

  • Students receive excellent preparation for graduate study, as well as excellent focus for a liberal arts program with immediate employment in mind.
  • Philosophy majors develop the ability to synthesize information from different sub-fields.
  • Students majoring in philosophy do exceptionally well on professional entry exams:  they place the highest of all majors nationally in the verbal and analytical sections of the Graduate Record Exam.
  • Undergraduate study in philosophy is particularly good training for students of law because of the analytical and reading skills that it fosters.

Philosophy: what’s it for?

Philosophical blog links:

Student journals: