What is Philosophy?
As Aristotle put it, philosophy is thinking about thinking. Similarly, William James characterizes philosophy as "the unusually stubborn attempt to think clearly." Philosophy thus is the reflexivity of thinking about thinking itself. Originally, philosophy embraced nearly all forms of human inquiry and it remains concerned with the most fundamental questions about reality, knowledge, and value. It is, in other words, an aspect of every academic discipline--as can be seen in the title "Doctor of Philosophy" that most scholars and professors carry. But philosophy is unlike other academic specialties precisely because it focuses on important issues left unresolved by the traditional disciplines. How do we know? What can we know? What is nature and is there a reality beyond nature? What is the mind (or soul) and how is it related to body? How do we know the right thing to do? How do we find meaning and value? Reflecting upon such questions may be our most distinctively human activity--the quest for truth, goodness and beauty. As Socrates said a long time ago, "the unexamined life is not worth living." (by Dr. Robert Wagoner, professor emeritus)
Sound intrigued and want to learn more about what philosophy is really about? Check those links from American Philosophical Association: "Philosophy: A Brief Guide for Undergraduates":
- The field of philosophy and philosophy curriculum (review sections, "The Field of Philosophy", and "Philosophy Curriculum")