Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Philosophy
What is Philosophy?
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WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?

Philosophy critically examines our most basic beliefs about the world and our place in it. Inquiry in philosophy grapples with such basic questions as "Can we be sure of our beliefs?" "What are the grounds for correct judgments?" "How do we distinguish between right and wrong?" "What is a person?" "Are we free or causally determined?" "Is there a God?"

Philosophy strives to develop the ability to reason clearly, to distinguish between good and bad arguments, to navigate through a complicated maze of questions, to clarify puzzling concepts, and to use intelligence and logic in situations ruled all too often by prejudices. It helps one understand points of view in a variety of controversies. Philosophy can help expand a student's horizons by enabling him or her to see beyond the social, political and economic world as it presently exists and develop a controlled but imaginative awareness of alternatives. Philosophy makes available to the student a significant portion of the world's great literature, and makes him or her aware of the extent to which scientists, artists, poets, educators and theologians have depended upon philosophical thought and argument in the course of their own development.

The foregoing suggest the multiplicity of links between philosophy and other disciplines and professions such as the sciences, the arts, medicine and law. Philosophy serves to place the study of such disciplines within a broader intellectual perspective and provides logical and analytical tools for understanding them. Since philosophy can enter into so many different programs, philosophical studies may be pursued as an intrinsic component of any liberal or professional education.