Mission Statement and Learning Goals
The Philosophy Department’s curriculum is built around the idea that philosophy is good for people outside of academic life. It offers personal enrichment as you reflect on your own beliefs and values. It offers analysis of concepts like power, truth, consciousness and even humor that have applications in politics, culture, science, and policy.
We understand public philosophy as a dynamic, evolving practice informed by intentional and reflective interaction with a general public. This includes: (a) contributing to a better understanding of existing social concerns and helping with possible solutions, (b) encouraging philosophical inquiry and reflection as valuable practices for everyday life, and/or (c) exposing a general audience to philosophical ideas, schools of thought, and methods of inquiry.
Philosophy draws on and cultivates wonder by stepping back from everyday experience to reflect on fundamental questions of truth, meaning and value. Socrates’ conviction that “the unexamined life is not worth living” invites students into the ongoing reflective and critical conversation about these fundamental questions, from their ancient roots to their contemporary manifestations.
In philosophy classes, students learn how to articulate ideas clearly in both speech and in writing, to approach new and difficult ideas with a spirit of openness, and to resist the urge to settle for easy answers. The department fosters the formation of classroom communities built on attentive listening and respect for oneself and others, so that students can construct responsible and meaningful visions of the common good. At the same time, it seeks to rouse students from intellectual complacency and to encourage deeper understanding of themselves, of the conditions that make knowledge possible, and of the values and presuppositions of the communities to which they belong.
In this way, the study of philosophy at CSB/SJU exemplifies a liberal arts curriculum which raises questions important to the human condition, demands clear thinking and communicating, and calls forth new knowledge for the good of humankind.