am a citizen, not of Athens, or Greece, but of the world.
Socrates (Fifth Century B.C.)
one in Jeffrey Jacksons family was surprised when he chose
to major in philosophy at Emory.
saw it comingthey had all seen me toting around Platos
Republic the summer before college began, Jackson
says. The two things I love doing more than anything else
are writing and arguing, so for me, it was a perfect fit. I
declared my major the first week at school and havent
what exactly does one do with a major in philosophy?
one wants, apparently.
who major in philosophy are likely to attend graduate or professional
schools and to score well on the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT. Philosophy
majors go on to become lawyers, doctors, corporate executives,
teachers, historians, and authors.
can teach data and techniques, but they become outmoded,
says Charles Howard Candler Professor of Philosophy Rudolf Makkreel,
who chairs Emorys department. However, if you prepare
students to really think, they can deal successfully with changing
an article by C.M. Cropper in the New York Times business
section says philosophy degrees pay off in life and in work.
an age of MBAs and computer scientists, more than four thousand
American college students graduate each year with a bachelors
degree in the ancient discipline. Sometimes, their parents and
friends wonder what will happen to them. One thing is certain:
Not many of them will go on to make a living as philosophers.
Cropper writes, philosophy majors appear to do remarkably well
in a variety of careers.
is good news for Emorys 103 philosophy majors, who make
the Colleges program one of the largest at comparable
ability of the department to engage students who are considering
so many different paths for their future is one of its strengths,
says Rosemary Magee 82G, senior associate dean of the
College. Through their study of philosophy at Emory, they
begin to understand the origin and development of ideas that
are at the basis of contemporary life.
literally means love of wisdom in Greek, the original
language of the discipline, which surfaced some twenty-five
hundred years ago. Then, as now, philosophy encompassed logic,
ethics, and metaphysicsfrom contemplating the nature of
being or reality (ontology) to the nature of knowledge (epistemology).
philosophers have pondered their way into the public consciousness:
Socrates posed dialectic questions, searched for the golden
mean, and pronounced that the unexamined life is not worth
living. Descartes declared, Cogito, ergo sum.
(I think, therefore I am.) Hume harbored skepticism,
while Leibniz leaned toward optimism. Kant set forth the categorical
imperative: What if everyone did as you do? Marx wrote the Communist
Manifesto. Sartre embraced existentialism.
do the works of these long-dead philosophers have to teach contemporary
students? Plenty, as it turns out.
study of philosophy has provided me with the necessary tools to
give my life meaning, says Nermin Ghali 05C, a philosophy
major and star Emory debater. And it has helped me to answer
questions about the existence of God, the criteria necessary for
a certain belief to be considered truth and knowledge, and many
other political issues such as the ideas of affirmative action,
the death penalty, and laws that protect minority rights.
some may think of philosophers as wise old sages meditating
apart from the world, todays philosophy students
debate current issues, says Makkreel, as evidenced by courses
on medical or business ethics and the philosophy of law. The
whole idea is to take moral responsibility and be rational human
beings, rather than just react to events. Abstractions from
Plato and Kant can be applied to concrete situations that students
today might encounter.
of the program say they obtained the abilities to think critically,
see through facile arguments, and use solid reasoning in their
own decisionsboth personal and professional.
is no other major that could have better prepared me to be where
I am, says Christopher Murell 03C, a law student
at New York University. My degree has been incredibly
useful in a lot of respects, academic and otherwise.
example, French philosopher Michel Foucaults analysis
of power has been a major influence on Murells political
and social activism. His work led me to rethink the nature
of activism and the strategies to employ. As a result, I feel
that I have been far more effective as an activist and have
a far greater understanding of social movements in general.
Jenkins 03C is in her first year of a Ph.D. program in
philosophy at Pennsylvania State University. A philosophy education,
says Jenkins, doesnt end at the classroom doors.
It encompasses a way of life. If my Emory philosophy professors
had not been so effective in getting me so passionate about
philosophy, I might be somewhere warm right now.
Lewis 04C says that by this time next year, he will be
in either law school, a masters program in philosophical
theology, or a think tank in Washington, D.C.
analytical skills philosophy develops can help prepare for anything,
he says. But people forget that philosophy is an end in
itself for many who study it seriously. Philosophy is about
exploring concepts that usually do not have right or wrong answers.
The ultimate goal is to consider questions such as How
should we live? What can we really know? What really exists?
What does it mean to be rational? And so on.