What is philosophy?
“Philosophy is the attempt to assess the foundations of our beliefs and the principles we live by.” –University of Otago philosophy website
“In Philosophy you will examine fundamental questions about human nature and our place in the world. We explore these questions through respectful discussion and arguments that can be critically assessed.” –University of Auckland philosophy website
“Are killer drones immoral? What about genetic engineering? Should rich countries give substantially more in overseas aid? Are there objective moral truths? Does God exist? Could we survive death as computer uploads? What is consciousness? Can machines think? What is the difference between science and myth? Why do we enjoy art? Is time travel possible? … Philosophy teaches you how to think about such questions rationally, carefully, and clearly. ” –University of Canterbury philosophy website
“The literal meaning of the word ‘philosopher’ is ‘lover of wisdom’. However, Philosophy is also about the love of critical and creative thinking, intelligent discussion, and cogent argument. These are skills that can be applied to almost any issue in almost any context.” –Victoria University of Wellington philosophy website
“Philosophy is for thinkers and doers. It’s about solving real-life problems, and applying intellectual rigour to how we understand and interact with others, society and the world.” –University of Waikato philosophy website
Why study philosophy?
“You will learn how to engage constructively in debate, to think in new ways and how to understand what you read rather than just remember it.” –Massey University philosophy website
“Philosophy develops skills valued in many fields: the ability to reason carefully, analyse arguments, and express complex ideas clearly and concisely. Philosophy graduates have gone on to a wide range of careers, including business, government, information technology, education and research.” –University of Auckland philosophy website
“If you are fascinated by ideas, like to think and to explore, are curious, and want to know where in the great marketplace of the world’s ideas truth might be reasonably found you will enjoy Philosophy. It is not just an academic subject, but addresses the puzzles that arise in daily life. Its aim is to enable you to think rationally, lucidly, independently and critically, to discuss intelligently, and to argue cogently.” –University of Canterbury philosophy website
“Philosophy students develop critical thinking skills—they learn to analyse arguments, write clearly, solve problems, and think creatively. These add value to other areas of study and are skills that are sought after by employers.” –Victoria University of Wellington philosophy website
“Perhaps the greatest benefit of studying philosophy is the satisfaction that comes from understanding, from thinking clearly about fundamental issues. This makes the study of philosophy its own reward. A degree in philosophy is also an excellent entry-point to a wide range of careers. As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, the salaries and salary increases earned by those with philosophy degrees compare very favourably to those earned by students of other subjects.” –University of Otago philosophy website
“Employers understand the value of graduates who can think, and decide, for themselves.” –University of Waikato philosophy website
The University of Otago have tracked 100 philosophy graduates over 10 years. Visit their website to find out where their philosophy graduates ended up.
Another useful resource is the “Philosophy is a Great Major” website, which contains a lot of relevant information, including about average earnings for philosophy majors in the United States.
Where can I study philosophy?
In New Zealand, you can study philosophy at the following tertiary institutions:
- Massey University
- University of Auckland
- University of Canterbury
- University of Otago
- University of Waikato
- Victoria University of Wellington
For informal study of philosophy, you can visit your local library’s philosophy section, or look up philosophical resources online.
Here are some philosophical resources to get you started:
- Wikipedia entry on philosophy
- Over 100 short animated philosophy videos from WiPhi
- A collection of 100 philosophical videos of various lengths at Barang
Here are some philosophical resources for more advanced readers: