Just what is philosophy?

Philosophy is Greek for “love of wisdom.” Think of what it’s like to be in love: it can be intoxicating! What is it to be wise? To begin with, the wise human being isn’t a know-it-all. For she's keenly aware, like the great ancient philosopher Socrates, of how much she doesn’t know. The experience of doing philosophy well is of discovering new, surprising, wonderful, and sometimes baffling depths and complexities to existence, our lives, and our beliefs. Hardly a claim does not give way under its own pressure, calling for further thought and work.

Why should I major or minor in philosophy?

You will hear over and over again, during your time at King’s, that King’s teaches students not only how to make a living, but how to live. What does this mean? Here is the nineteenth-century American philosopher Henry David Thoreau:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. (Walden, chapter 2)

Your King’s education is an opportunity to ensure that, at the end of your life, you will not discover you had not lived. Philosophy is all about living deeply. The philosophy major or minor is a way for you to practice leading an examined life. And philosophy is invigorating and fun!

What will I learn and study?

As a philosophy major or minor, you will learn how to read closely and critically, think logically, frame difficult questions, recognize and come to terms with complexity and uncertainty, and develop careful, informed arguments on questions of deep significance. You also will study great thinkers past and present, from West and East, North and South.

What good would a philosophy degree do? What job could I get?

Think about what employers want: people who write and speak clearly, think creatively and independently, persevere in the face of challenges, don’t pretend to know it all, and enjoy working with others to come to insight. Philosophy develops all those virtues and skills. What’s more, philosophy majors excel at standardized tests like the GMAT, LSAT, and GRE; see the numbers here. And keep in mind that, if you want to go to medical school or into other healthcare professions, the Association of American Medical Colleges recommends the humanities for developing students’ “communication skills, critical thinking, and cultural competences—all skills that are essential to becoming an effective physician.” Humanities majors even outscore biology majors on the MCAT.

Click on "Careers" to learn what our graduates are doing and what they have to say about the major!