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Skidmore College
Philosophy Department


Philosophy is the discipline that takes nothing for granted.  Everything that we do and say in our everyday lives is based on certain assumptions about what is good and what is real.  The goal of philosophy is to transform these assumptions into questions, so that they cease being thoughtless and become instead thought-provoking.  Philosophy takes not even itself for granted, but is instead continually reinterpreting and redefining itself.

Strictly speaking, it is not a "discipline", but rather an art of questioning that brings into question every "discipline", every body of knowledge that presents itself as objective and conclusive.  While this might give philosophy the appearance of being "abstract", the opposite is the case. Everyday, in both our actions and judgments, we distinguish between what is good and what is bad, between what is real and what is only an appearance or illusion.  Philosophy asks: how do we make these distinctions and on what basis?  Philosophy is ultimately a choice between an unexamined life that passively lets itself be guided by what "people say" and a self-examining life that chooses instead the freedom of self-determination. 

What then does the philosophy major prepare you for?  Life!  But struggling with the most fundamental and difficult questions human beings can confront also develops skills that serve philosophy majors well in practically any occupation they choose after graduation, the skills of critical reasoning and interpretation, as well as both written and oral expression.  Thus, while some philosophy majors pursue the study of philosophy in graduate school and eventually become professors of philosophy, others-and they are the large majority- pursue, and are very successful in careers in business and law, to name only two possibilities.  As studies have shown, philosophy majors outperform every other major in entrance exams to business and law schools; including business and government majors!  In other words, philosophy is a very practical major in every sense of the word "practical".

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