Prepared by the American Philosophical Association's Committee on the Status and Future of the Profession (Jaegwon Kim, Chair, 1976-1981; Robert Sleigh, Chair, 1981-1986), and Committee on Career Opportunities (Robert Audi, Chair, 1984-1985).


THE FIELD OF PHILOSOPHY


Introduction

Philosophy is quite unlike any other field. It is unique both in its methods and in the nature and breadth of its subject matter. Philosophy pursues questions in every dimension of human life, and its techniques apply to problems in any field of study or endeavor. No brief definition expresses the richness and variety of philosophy. It may be described in many ways. It is a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for understanding, a study of principles of conduct. It seeks to establish standards of evidence, to provide rational methods of resolving conflicts, and to create techniques for evaluating ideas and arguments. Philosophy develops the capacity to see the world from the perspective of other individuals and other cultures; it enhances one's ability to perceive the relationships among the various fields of study; and it deepens one's sense of the meaning and variety of human experience.

This short description of philosophy could be greatly expanded, but let us instead illustrate some of the points. As the systematic study of ideas and issues, philosophy may examine concepts and views drawn from science, art, religion, politics, or any other realm Philosophical appraisal of ideas and issues takes many forms, but philosophical studies often focus on the meaning of an idea and on its basis, coherence, and relations to other ideas. Consider, for instance, democracy. What is it? What justifies it as a system of government? Can a democracy allow the people to vote away their own rights? And how is it related to political liberty? Consider human knowledge. What is its nature and extent? Must we always have evidence in order to know? What can we know about the thoughts and feelings of others, or about the future? What kind of knowledge, if any, is fundamental? Similar kinds of questions arise concerning art, morality, religion, science, and each of the major areas of human activity. Philosophy explores all of them. It views them both microscopically and from the wide perspective of the larger concerns of human existence.

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 Introduction
The Uses of Philosophy in Non-Academic Careers
Traditional Subfields of Philosophy
Special Fields of Philosophy
General Uses of Philosophy
The Uses of Philosophy in Educational Pursuits
THE PHILOSOPHY CURRICULUM
CONCLUSION
APPENDIX

Introduction | Page 1 of 9 | The Uses of Philosophy in Non-Academic Careers
   
Table of Content    

The Field of Philosophy
  • Introduction
  • Traditional Subfields of Philosophy
  • Special Fields of Philosophy

2. The Uses of Philosophy

  • General Uses of Philosophy
  • The Uses of Philosophy in Educational Pursuits
  • The Uses of Philosophy in Non-Academic Careers

3. The Philosophy Curriculum

4. Conclusion

5. Appendix: Facts About Philosophy Majors