What do I do with a philosophy major?
These are, by far, the most frequently asked questions students have about majoring in philosophy. The answer :
- Start with the fact that philosophy has always been at the heart of a college education;
- Follow up with the fact that philosophy courses feature some of the most exciting, interesting, and accessible professors and students at Millikin; and then;
- Consider the kinds of fascinating questions with which philosophy grapples:
- Who am I? How can I know? What should I do?
- Does God exist? If God exists, how is that fact consistent with the existence of evil in the world?
- Do human beings possess free will? Or is human behavior and action causally determined?
- What is the relation between mental states (mind, consciousness) and brain states (body)?
- What justification is there for the state? How should finite and scare resources be distributed within society?
- Are there universal moral principles? Or are all moral principles relative either to cultures or individuals?
- What does it mean to judge a work of art beautiful? Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?
- What is happiness? Can we hope to attain it? Can bad people be happy?
- Since I sometimes see and hear things incorrectly, how do I know that my perceptions are ever correct? Might they always be wrong?
- How do we balance our desires, needs, and rights against those of other individuals? against those of future generations? children? animals?
- Do people the world over think the same way about basic issues, or are there fundamental differences between cultures regarding these things? And if there are, must we respect those differences? (Think of cannibalism)
There are numerous resources on the web that speak to questions like “Why study philosophy?” and “What can I do with a philosophy major?” Simply go to a search engine (e.g., Google) and enter a query like “Why philosophy” or “What to do with philosophy major.” We have collected representative answers in the following document “Why Philosophy?”
What have previous majors gone on to do?
See careers page.
What are philosophy courses like?
Students in philosophy courses learn to think critically. Both members of the Philosophy Department have been recognized as outstanding teachers. Students respond to their Philosophy education for three key reasons: (1) Philosophy faculty are passionate about the subject matter that they teach, and that passion is contagious; (2) Philosophy faculty are rigorous in their expectations, and establish high expectations for their students, encouraging the students to have high expectations for themselves; and (3) Philosophy faculty employ an intense, discussion-driven format in which students are engaged, challenged on many of their core beliefs and assumptions, and encouraged to take charge of their own education and their own thinking.
The key experiences in the Philosophy curriculum, along with encounters with challenging texts, include intensive engagement with Philosophy professors, engagement with fellow students, reflection and digestion of ideas, and presentation of the students’ own ideas in written form. The overall learning experience in the Philosophy major, then, is one of intellectual engagement (with a great deal of one-on-one engagement outside of class as well), in which students are challenged to think critically about core beliefs and assumptions, and are expected to be able to present critical and creative ideas regarding those core beliefs and assumptions in oral and, especially, written form.
Is it possible to major in philosophy and another discipline?
Yes. The philosophy major requires 30 credits. This leaves ample room for students to explore other subjects and disciplines. The inherent practical value of philosophical activity makes philosophy not only an excellent choice as a major, but also an excellent complimentary (second) major. In fact, many of our students are double-majors with English, history, psychology, computer science, theater, political science, etc. Our double majors have discovered that doing philosophy is not only intrinsically rewarding; it also helps them do their work in their other majors better.
How else, besides the classroom, can I get involved in the philosophy department?
The Philosophy Department sponsors the Theo-Socratic Society. The Theo-Socratic Society is a long established institution at Millikin. In 1981, Dr. Yonan of the Religion Department and Dr. Jacobs decide to merge the then separate Theology Club and Socratic Club. Since that time students and faculty have traveled to hear speakers at University of Illinois, Washington University, and Illinois Wesleyan, invited speakers from other institutions, staged protests, watched movies, sponsored panel discussions, read books and articles together, organized a conference on the environment, in short, promoted the life of the mind at Millikin.
Dr. Money is also faculty advisor to Moot Court. Many of Millikin’s core educational skills are facilitated in this practical simulation: critical and moral reasoning, oral communication skills, collaborative learning, etc. Moreover, this simulation and competition is a paradigmatic example of the “theory-practice” model endorsed by Millikin. We compete each spring in Springfield, Illinois, as part of Model Illinois Government.
Who is my advisor in the Department?
Once you declare a major in philosophy, you will be assigned a faculty advisor from within the Department. The Department tries to accommodate student preferences, if possible.
How do I become a philosophy major?
You need to pick up and complete a “Declaration of Major/Change of Major” form. You may pick one up from the office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, located in Shilling Hall, room 209.
What are the requirements for the philosophy major or philosophy minor?
The “advising sheet for the philosophy major” provides an overview of the requirements for the major and the minor.