We help students raise and explore fundamental questions in dialogue with the great thinkers of the philosophical tradition. By examining their own opinions in light of human wisdom, students gain self-knowledge and insight into the lives they are fashioning for themselves.
“The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.”
The Greek word philosophia means ‘love of wisdom.’ Philosophy names a desire for knowledge that develops into a search for truth. So, philosophy is not simply a skill that can be mastered or a subject that can be studied, memorized, and passed down from one generation to the next—it is a way of life. The activity of philosophy grows out of humanity’s innate desire to know, it is nourished by a sense of wonder at the mystery of things, and it blossoms into a serious and sustained attempt to understand ourselves and the world we inhabit.
Significantly, though, individuals never begin to seek the truth with a blank slate. We always begin thinking in the midst of a life that is already underway, and we always have our own opinions about what is right and what is wrong, about what a human being is, about our place in the cosmos, about what reality is like, about where the world came from, and about whether there is a God. If we do not examine these opinions, we risk leading a life based on illusions, deceptions, and lies. In order to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, then, each individual must examine his or her own opinions. Philosophy begins as an attempt to discover whether the opinions one holds are actually true. This attempt to ascend from unexamined opinions toward knowledge of ourselves, our world, and our place in the world is the beating heart of philosophical inquiry.
Because philosophy aims to discover the truth about all things, a philosophical education is relevant in all walks of life. Philosophy students cultivate intellectual habits that are sought in virtually every professional field. Most importantly, philosophical inquiry helps students progress toward a knowledge of themselves that allows them to pursue a worthy, happy, and genuinely human life.
Philosophy students broaden their thinking and enrich their perspective. While courses in philosophy are required for all Assumption students, some students choose to major or minor in philosophy because they enjoy thinking through the questions addressed in these courses. Some will go on to pursue graduate studies, but others recognize that a major or minor in philosophy provides a strong academic complement to a major in any other discipline.