More philosophy majors in college; ‘Philosophy is really the mother ship from which all these disciplines grow’

An excerpt from an encouraging New York Times article, followed by some quotes about philosophy and faith: 

Rutgers, which has long had a top-ranked philosophy department, is one of a number of universities where the number of undergraduate philosophy majors is ballooning; there are 100 in this year’s graduating class, up from 50 in 2002, even as overall enrollment on the main campus has declined by 4 percent.

At the City University of New York, where enrollment is up 18 percent over the past six years, there are 322 philosophy majors, a 51 percent increase since 2002.

“If I were to start again as an undergraduate, I would major in philosophy,” said Matthew Goldstein, the CUNY chancellor, who majored in mathematics and statistics. “I think that subject is really at the core of just about everything we do. If you study humanities or political systems or sciences in general, philosophy is really the mother ship from which all of these disciplines grow.”

Nationwide, there are more colleges offering undergraduate philosophy programs today than a decade ago (817, up from 765), according to the College Board. Some schools with established programs like Texas A&M, Notre Dame, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, now have twice as many philosophy majors as they did in the 1990s.

Nicholas Rescher, in Philosophers Who Believe: The clarity and cogency that philosophy brings is accordingly something that has a potentially positive role to play in every impartial area of human endeavor, Christianity by no means excluded. No church can exist in easy comfort with its intellectuals and theologians, but no church can be a thriving concern among thinking people if it dispenses with their services.

Linda Zagzebski, in Philosophers Who Believe: Philosophy makes us yearn for truth, but it does not always show us how to find it.

Colin Brown, Christianity and Western Thought, Vol. 1:  If there is something that can be learned from the study of Hume, it is the difficulty of trying to develop a philosophy by starting with some item of alleged empirical evidence. For what we call evidence is rarely some self-evident fact, but something which is interpreted within a web of beliefs.

Thomas Aquinas, quoted in Christianity and Western Thought, Vol. 1: The study of philosophy is not done in order to know what men have thought, but rather to know how truth herself stands.

William S. Sahakian and Mabel Lewis Sahakian, Ideas of the Great Philosophers:  Philosophy, technically defined, is the critical evaluation of all the facts of experience.

Roger Scruton, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Philosophy:  Philosophy, for Plato, undermined the certainties of a common culture, and led, through doubt and wonder, to a realm of truth.

William Barrett, Irrational Man: For Socrates philosophy was a way of life, and he existed in that way. Since he did not profess to have any theory of philosophy, he did not accept pay as a professor. He could teach only by example, and what Kierkegaard learned from the example of Socrates became fundamental for his own thinking: namely, that existence and a theory about existence are not one in the same, any more than a printed menu is as effective a form of nourishment as an actual meal. More than that: the possession of a theory about existence may intoxicate the possessor to such a degree that he forgets the need of existence altogether.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Essays on His Own Times: In every state, not wholly barbarous, a philosophy, good or bad, there must be. However slightingly it may be the fashion to talk of speculation and theory, as opposed (sillily and nonsensically opposed) to practice, it would not be difficult to prove, that such as is the existing spirit of speculation, during any given period, such will be the spirit and tone of the religion, legislation, and morals, nay, even of the fine arts, the manners, and the fashions. Nor is this less true, because the great majority of men live like bats, but in twilight, and know and feel the philosophy of their age only by its reflections and refractions. 

-Colin Foote Burch

P.S.  Visit the inimitable Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online.

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One response to “More philosophy majors in college; ‘Philosophy is really the mother ship from which all these disciplines grow’

  1. David Nderitu

    I would like to know if you offer scholarships for Philosophy students.