The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Undergraduate

Why Philosophy?

Whatever your career aspirations, the study of philosophy can help in strengthening your preparation, through developing your capacities to think and reason well, to deal critically and analytically with the ideas, the concepts, the problems, and the methodologies central to your chosen profession. Yet the study of philosophy equips you not just with skills for a trade or profession; it equips you with an important skill for living. No matter where you go or what you do, you will always live day by day with yourself. One of the things philosophy does is to prepare you for this most important activity of living for and with yourself. This does not mean that it teaches you a selfish activity; rather that it helps to instill self-understanding. Philosophy helps you to learn by doing, by actively doing analysis, questioning, reflecting, and understanding.

The range of topics is broad, encompassing issues of values, knowledge, reality, religion, science, language, society, and more. The core fields in philosophy are logic, ethics, metaphysics, and the theory of knowledge. There are also many specialized fields, such as the philosophy of science, the philosophy of art, the philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of language. A student may wish to develop a special competence in one of the specialized fields, or in the philosophy of a given period (for example, in ancient philosophy or the philosophy of the 17th century), or in a particular school or style of philosophy (for example, in existentialism or in analytic philosophy).

 

The Philosophy Major: Quick Guide

Philosophy majors...

  •  Learn how to think deeply about deep things: human nature and happiness, death and the

             meaning of life, ethics and morality, society and politics, the existence of God, what

             constitutes knowledge, the nature of the human mind — and many other evergreen topics

             that for millennia have occupied the greatest minds

  •  Know how to think critically about any issue from multiple perspectives
  •  Have the ultimate transferable skill: the ability to solve problems, to communicate, to

             organize ideas and issues, to assess pros and cons, and to boil down complex data

Philosophy majors at UMass…

  •   Learn from faculty and graduate students engaged in cutting-edge research
  •  Conveniently accommodate a double major (10 courses, including JYW and IE)
  •  Get broad exposure to the areas of philosophy, from Ancient to Modern to Contemporary

                    Logic — the core analytic tool

                  Value Theory

                       — Ethics (plus medical ethics, business ethics, philosophy of technology)

                       — Social and political philosophy

                       — Philosophical perspectives on gender

                  Metaphysics (the study of what there is) & Epistemology (the study of knowledge)

                       — Philosophy of mind

                       — Philosophy of language

Philosophy majors after UMass…

  •  Can do anything: not only prepared to do many kinds of tasks, but particularly well prepared

             to cope with change in their chosen career field, or even move into new careers

  •  Earn high scores on GRE, LSAT, MCAT
  •  Have high earnings potential: highest in the humanities, comparable with engineering
  •  Go on to careers in business, finance, government, law, computer science, medicine,

             publishing, sales … and, yes, teaching at all levels

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