What is philosophy?

Philosophy is concerned with fundamental issues that arise when human beings think about the nature of the universe, their own nature, their relationship to the world and to one another: Is the universe really physical or is it the product of some mind? What is the mind and what is its relation to matter? Are we capable of free choice or is our every act determined by past events? What makes for a morally right act or a just society? How good is our evidence for the beliefs we hold? These are the kinds of questions that are addressed by philosophers.

The primary methods of philosophy are not the empirical methods of disciplines like physics or history, however. The answers to philosophical problems are not to be found "under rocks"; the answers are to be found, not by looking hard, but by thinking hard. Philosophy's methods involve the critical evaluation of fundamental assumptions and the construction and evaluation of arguments that criticize or support philosophical positions.

Students of philosophy who become adept at the analysis of issues, concepts and evidence, who can construct and critique arguments and who can forge and express coherent views on complex matters are well-prepared to enter the fields of law, medicine, the ministry and, of course, education. In addition to critical and writing skills, students of philosophy acquire knowledge of value theory, political philosophy, ethics, logic, metaphysics and epistemology, which provide excellent preparation for careers in the above fields, as well as many others.

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