Pondering about Philosophy


By Laura Humble Staff Writer

You are considering potential majors offered by Centre for that fateful day in March when you declare.

If you like to ask the hard questions about life, about existence, about consciousness, about abstract ideas such as justice and mercy, then philosophy may just very well be the major for you.

The size of philosophy classes at Centre waxes and wanes year by year.

“Some years we have more than others. In recent years, we have had classes as big as fifteen and as small as two,” Assistant Professor of Philosophy Dr. Eva Cadavid said.

Though the classes are never enormous, the work is no less fulfilling and intensive.

“Our classes are writing-intensive and we expect students to do the readings for class more than once. We also expect students to be engaging in conversations outside of class and to be reading other philosophical material that they find interesting,” Cadavid said.

Senior philosophy major Warren McKnight has found being a philosophy major one of the best decisions she has ever made.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Program Dr. Andrew Roche lectures about the ideas of parallelism and identity.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Program Dr. Andrew Roche lectures about the ideas of parallelism and identity.

“I never considered philosophy before I came to Centre. My freshman year, I had [Cadavid] for Humanities. She encouraged me to take philosophy classes, and I really liked them, so I continued,” McKnight said.

The philosophy subject matter attracts McKnight because of how the classes are taught in a way that fits her own style of processing and wondering about life and other questions.

“It aligned with the way I thought about the world and how I thought through problems in a way I could not get from any other discipline,” McKnight said.

Essentially, she found the right fit for her.

The workload of a philosophy major is not for the faint of heart, however. McKnight confirmed that it is often a lot of reading and a lot of writing.

“Sometimes you can have around 100 pages of assigned reading per-class,” she said.

However, the faculty members in the Philosophy Department at Centre are very encouraging and willing to help students develop a stronger command of the subject material.

“They are always willing to talk to you about whatever concerns you have in class or in their office,” McKnight said. “They’re also great for helping to flesh out ideas for papers.”

Currently, McKnight is working on her project for the John C. Young program.

“I would never have been able to articulate [my project proposal] if not for philosophy,” she said.

Furthermore, she was president of Centre’s Philosophy Club and has had the opportunity to attend a philosophy conference this past summer.

“The department works extremely hard to further your philosophical education,” McKnight said.

So what can one do after graduation with a philosophy major?

“I want to go into the publishing or editorial world. My major is useful because it helped me to develop strong communication and analytical thinking skills. Plus, I stand out from all the other English majors applying for these jobs,” McKnight said.

Cadavid emphasized that a diverse professional and postgraduate field awaits philosophy majors.

“In recent years, some of our majors have gone on to law school, graduate school in philosophy, and in other areas, for instance creative writing. Some majors are working for private companies, where their ability to think outside the box has been highly valued,” she said.

All of this is fantastic, but what should you really know when thinking about a philosophy major?

“You should major in philosophy because it makes you a better writer. It emphasizes critical thinking and analytical thinking skills. Through philosophy, you learn to construct arguments and to clearly communicate ideas through written and verbal communication,” McKnight said. “It’s very useful in helping you analyze the world around you. Employers are looking for all of these skills, especially if the field you’re interested in involves writing or being convincing.”

If any of this interests you, philosophy is a fantastic major to pursue.

Requirements include nine philosophy classes and a senior seminar, while requirements for the minor include six philosophy classes.


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