Why Study Philosophy?
Philosophy is concerned with some of the deepest and most difficult questions we can ask: questions about human nature and the meaning of life, about the nature of reality, about the possibility and extent of knowledge, about the existence of God, and about morality and how we should live. Students of philosophy come to know how some of the greatest thinkers in history have answered such questions and how they are addressed by contemporary philosophers.
In addition, understanding the arguments of philosophers in response to these questions requires careful analysis and close study. Students of philosophy acquire the ability to discern the most important features of complex material, learn to assess elaborate arguments, and come to form their own conclusions on difficult and important questions.
In general, philosophers develop sophisticated skills of critical analysis and evaluation. Philosophy thus provides knowledge of matters of enduring human concern, as well as reasoning skills of general value, and so provides benefits that extend throughout life.
Our small class sizes afford our students many opportunities to engage in discussions, presentations, and group projects. We assign papers in nearly all of our classes and give essay exams. Outside of class, students are engaged in careful, critical reading of philosophical texts, and in thinking and writing about philosophy. Our classes, we hope, require students to become involved in philosophical issues and to struggle with their complexity and ambiguity.
Cornell's One Course At A Time schedule extends these opportunities by giving us longer periods of class time to immerse ourselves in the topic at hand.