Philosophy

Philosophy FAQs

How can I use my philosophy major or minor to find a job after graduation?

Philosophy students are among the most employable in today’s job market (see Careers). This is because creative problem solving and critical thinking are the most valued skills that employers look for, and these are just the skills that philosophy students learn to master. Other college majors may also help with these skills, but philosophy is the most focused and intensive when it comes to their development.

Can studying philosophy help with applying to graduate school?

Yes. Philosophy majors consistently outperform all other majors on standardized tests for graduate school admissions. This includes the GRE, LAST, GMAT, and MCAT. Here are some recent studies that document the correlation between excellent test scores and majoring in philosophy (see Careers).

Is anyone doing philosophy now?

Here’s the surprise. Everyone has the potential to do philosophy. This is because everyone can come up with reasons that can support their views on all sorts of philosophical issues, like whether God exists, whether we have a soul that can survive our earthly existence, whether it is better to be honest even if it goes against your personal interest, and many others. There are professional philosophers at CSUN and other colleges and universities doing research on both traditional and the latest uncharted issues in philosophy (see What Is Philosophy?). Since you have the potential to do philosophy, why not take a course? (see Courses)

What can I expect in a philosophy course?

You can expect fun discussions on intense subjects (like truth, consciousness, and the meaning of life) and intense discussions on fun subjects (like bullshit, hip hop, Stephen Colbert, baseball, poker, Harry Potter, social media, the internet, South Park, the SimpsonsGirlsStar TrekThe WireThe Matrix, and the list goes on). Whatever the topic, you will learn to think rigorously, with the aim towards developing logical support for your views, and the power to express your views clearly and persuasively.

Doesn’t philosophy just come down to each person’s opinion?

No. When it comes to doing philosophy, the aim is to get at the truth. We all start with opinions, for sure, but the point is to turn these opinions into defensible, plausible positions. If people are not making the effort to search for good reasons that can support their views, they are not doing philosophy.

Philosophy raises a lot of questions. Does it ever give any straight answers?

Yes, it can. Many find answers to their satisfaction after a period of investigation. So philosophy can provide answers. But even if it doesn’t, it is far better not to have a satisfying answer than to settle for a poorly justified belief.  Close-minded certainty can be much more dangerous than open-minded doubt, and philosophy can enlighten you about what you know and don’t know. This is how we make meaningful progress.

What elements of philosophy deal with the real world?

Numerous branches of philosophy address things that matter to our daily lives. For instance, some philosophers get trained in medical ethics to use their knowledge in hospitals. Philosophers are also hired to handle difficult issues in law and public policy. The skills one learns in doing philosophy can be very effective for dealing with practical and personal problems. This might explain why philosophy is getting more popular.

What progress has philosophy made?

All of the natural and social sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology and anthropology) were branches of philosophy. It was originally philosophers who wanted to understand the nature of space, time and motion, what objects are made of, how living things grow, how the mind works, which forces have shaped humans into their present form, and countless other important matters. We now have disciplines that explain these things in great detail.  The aim to add to the growing body of knowledge is an aim that springs from philosophy. (see “How Philosophy Makes Progress”)

Has philosophy made a difference to society?

Philosophy can deeply influence the kind of society we live in. Whether democracy is a good form of government, how the wealth should be distributed, how people should treat their families and neighbors -- these are all philosophical issues whose resolutions shape our lives. Philosophy also contributes to the public by raising awareness of new issues, like whether people are seriously mistaken in their thinking about homosexuality, race and gender, or how information technologies may literally extend one’s mind.

Can philosophy make a difference to your life?

Many people fall in love with philosophy because of the guidance and inspiration it can give. Doing philosophy may be the greatest influence upon the way a person goes through life because it can completely change one’s perspectives. In the way one can turn to religion, one can also turn to philosophy as the most cherished source of meaning and consolation.