The study of philosophy enables us to think well about the most important questions in our lives: What do I want to accomplish with my life? Does my life have any purpose? Do I live in a just society? Does God really exist? How should I treat others? The only way we can be satisfied with our answers is by finding them for ourselves, not by memorizing the ideas of others or being intimidated by the “wisdom of the ages.” We must learn to think clearly and creatively for ourselves.
In order to think clearly, philosophy students learn methods for thinking that avoid basic mistakes in reasoning. In order to think creatively, philosophy students examine some of the outstanding original ideas of past and present to discover where our ideas originated and to use them as a starting point for our thinking.
Since Socrates, the founder of Western philosophy, was asked to drink hemlock by the citizens of Athens in 399 B.C., philosophy has had a subversive reputation because it makes us think for ourselves. The reputation is well deserved.
Unlike most areas of study at UFV, Philosophy is often an unknown subject for the entering student. It is often confused with psychology, religion, and mysticism. Many people also have the impression that Philosophy is difficult, obscure, and irrelevant. In fact, Philosophy is taught in many North American high schools; in some places, it is even taught in elementary schools. Philosophy can be studied and enjoyed at various levels by students with diverse interests.
Studying Philosophy at UFV helps you to pose questions that go to the heart of the matter at hand, and to produce and evaluate various answers to questions that may range from the prosaic--What kind of car should I buy? Who should I vote for?--to the most profound--Why should I obey the law? Is there a God? In the process of acquiring these skills of investigation, you learn to express your ideas clearly and logically while becoming aware of the power and limits of logic and reason. In addition, Philosophy studies some of the most historically influential ideas and great literature. However, you are not asked to memorize a bunch of dates or quotations.