Advanced Search

Hello everyone. I am a sophomore starting a philosophy club at my high school.

Hello everyone. I am a sophomore starting a philosophy club at my high school. No other high school in the district has one. To get straight to the point, I need a clever acronym for the club's name. Although this isn't really a philosophical question, can you please take your time and possibly give me a good, witty name? We cover all fields of philosophy.

I currently study philosophy at an undergraduate level at Trinity College Dublin

I currently study philosophy at an undergraduate level at Trinity College Dublin, and I am interested in pursuing philosophy of mind at a graduate level – certainly with a PhD. That's the hope anyway. I have considered perhaps doing something like an MPhil at Cambridge. Yet, I am concerned that a lot of work in philosophy of mind doesn't seem to take into account where it sits on the boundary between science and philosophy, and a lot of what we get is some sort of babble that doesn't fit into what we know from science. Often, there is a lot of stuff that thinks it is informed by science, but really isn't – out of simple ignorance. I like David Chalmers's views on this: "Everything I say here is compatible with the results of contemporary science; our picture of the natural world is broadened, not overturned." I have considered completing an MSc in Neuroscience that doesn't take things from a philosophy perspective. There are quite a few programs, such as one at my own university, that accept students...

Well, I think your plans sound great. But of course I would, since I helped develop the Neurophilosophy Track in the MA program in philosophy at Georgia State University ( I'm not just advertising! (though you might consider our program.) I'm suggesting that your view of philosophy of mind as continuous with the cognitive sciences is a prominent one (and the right one to boot!). Many PhD programs in philosophy (including MIT, but also Washington University's PNP program, UC San Diego, CUNY, Pitt HPS, Indiana, and others) have people and programs focusing on empirically-informed philosophy of mind. Most of them would appreciate your taking some time to study neuroscience or other cognitive sciences. Most of them would allow you to pursue such courses while doing your PhD in philosophy (and some have certificates in cog sci). So, go get an MSc in neuroscience and/or apply for MA or PhD programs that would allow you to get some rigorous training in the relevant sciences. And then join the wave of researchers in philosophy and some of the relevant sciences who see our fields as a joint project aimed at figuring out how the most complex thing in the universe (the brain) does all the remarkable stuff our minds do.

I have 17 years I am really into philosophy . I would give everything to go and

I have 17 years I am really into philosophy . I would give everything to go and study it . But there is one problem. My parents doesn't know where can philosophy take me(job , career ) . I never thought about it so if you could help me PLS

Dear Friend - I have a couple of ideas about careers, but we can get to that in a minute. Since you are already a fan of philosophy, I won't bother telling you its virtues. But you might want to try telling your parents what you love about it and show your passion for it so that they have a sense that your interest is sincere and lasting.

Some ideas about careers: First of all, studies show that (at least in the US) a young person starting out today will have an average of 6 different careers in her lifetime. That is not 6 different jobs -- I mean 6 entirely different careers (first a soldier, then student, then nurse, then nursing administrator, then medical get the idea). So a degree today should be flexible in that it will help you in the many different paths you will follow. A degree in today's accounting practices, for example, won't help you if accounting practices change tomorrow. So a philosophy degree is a good fit for someone starting out because philosophers know how to think through complex problems, evaluate different solutions, and then clearly communicate the best way forward. I have seen philosophy students succeed in medical school, in business, in law, in many different kinds of fields. Contrary to popular belief, philosophy majors find all kinds of jobs. There is even a list of famous business tycoons here who majored in philosophy:

All that being said, I am sure your parents will still want to know what kind of job you will get when you are done with your studies. As a college professor, I can tell you exactly who gets the jobs: those who work persistently at getting them. Plan on doing three internships if possible, even if unpaid and not exactly 'philosophical.' Make sure you have good computer and interpersonal skills. Always be on time, reliable, and engaged. Go beyond what is expected of you. Excel at an internship by making yourself an indispensable part of the organization, and the organization will have no choice but to offer you paid work.

While it may weaken what I said about studying philosophy, I find that your particular course of study -- in the end -- will be less important than having analytic, writing, and technical skills, and a solid work ethic. Good luck!

dear sir/ madam

dear sir/ madam i have studied aesthetic at university, but i would like to work on aesthetics for kids at elementary school and students of high school. i would really appreciate it if you could help me with this case and introduce me some books and resources, and also i would like to know if there is a specific philosopher who had worked on this case. best regards, H.

Dear H. - Let me start by pointing you towards the American Society for Aesthetics. They have a really good teaching resource page here: I also can recommend the book Puzzles about Aesthetics: A Casebook, edited by Battin, Fischer, Moore, and Silvers, widely available online. I'm not sure all of the book's commentary will be suitable for high school students, let alone younger ones, because it is a sophisticated introduction to the topic. But many of the cases there would work very well in those classroom settings. Finally, I think the best way to start a lesson on aesthetics is with the students' own aesthetics experiences, perhaps by asking them to share or write about the music, tv shows, books, outdoors experiences, etc. that move them most. Good luck!

What are your main objections about the way philosophy is taught to

What are your main objections about the way philosophy is taught to undergraduates today and is it any different than the way it was taught during your time as an undergrad? Just how much say do professors in philosophy have over what they want to cover? I only took two philosophy courses in school, but I found that the topic material was overly broad and covered too many philosophers; even the professors seemed overwhelmed with the readings. I think it would be more worthwhile if perhaps the students decided at the beginning of courses specifically on no more than three philosophers/topics to cover intensely since specialization results in a greater degree of understanding instead of general unconcentrated knowledge.

There are I think no objections to the way philosophy is taught to undergraduates today in US and UK universities. Courses are on the whole very well taught, there is a an emphasis on clarity and often on originality, and students learn a great deal of respect for decent argument, as well as sound scholarship. Courses on the history of philosophy have never been better, and this is true of courses in other areas as well. I believe you when you say that your school philosophy courses was too broad and "even the professors seemed overwhelmed with the readings." I have noticed this kind of thing before. You are absolutely right that "specialization results in a greater degree of understanding", though there is a place for the well-taught survey course. If I were going to offer a course on three philosophers, I would want the three to have a strong link, so for example a course on "Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz", "Stewart, Reid and Hamilton", or "Russell, Moore and Wittgenstein".

Regarding Ph.d. applications, how important is the writing sample? I am in a top

Regarding Ph.d. applications, how important is the writing sample? I am in a top-15 Master's program right now, 3.83 GPA, but the best part of my application is my writing sample. I got a perfect grade on it from a tough grader, and I've fixed up anything that could possibly be "wrong" with it. It's definitely my best work to date. I need that because there are a couple of weaknesses in my application that I need to "make up" for, and I'm hoping the writing sample will do the trick. Thanks.

Given that I do not teach doctoral students I can reply with complete confidence that I have no clue what "magic hat-trick" makes admission committees tick! You've done your best to present your case; innumerable factors are at play, many of which have little to do with you. So what to do? Perservere. That is it in a nutshell. The reality is that it is harder to complete a Ph.D. than to get into a doctoral program, so if you let a rejection discourage you, you may not manage to make it keep trying! By now, I hope you have many acceptance letters coming your way! Bon Chance! -bjm

What is the next best thing to studying philosophy at an undergraduate level?

What is the next best thing to studying philosophy at an undergraduate level? I had wanted to study philosophy for a long time — but I've decided to go another path. I'm disappointed, because I think the transferrable skills from philosophy are absolutely amazing. (This is on top of the fact that I really just enjoy philosophy.) For instance, if you look at GRE scores based on the subject majored in, those who studied philosophy were the number one in verbal reasoning and analytical writing, and pretty high up in the quantitative reasoning. People have told me that the only way to experience the depth and breadth of philosophy is to actually study it full time for a number of years. But is there a way to at least develop some of the skills that philosophers have in bucket loads without actually doing it for a degree? I am doing a law degree.

I agree with Prof. Leaman that philosophy hasn't cornered the market on good reasoning about difficult issues. But I'd caution anyone against thinking that even the best law schools, for example, generally attain the level of conceptual precision and logical rigor demanded by serious training in philosophy. I've been a student in law school and in a philosophy graduate program, and I think that Brian Leiter, a professor of both philosophy and law, has it right when he remarks as follows in his Philosophical Gourmet Report:

"Unfortunately, a great deal of what passes for 'philosophy' in law schools -- even at some excellent law schools -- is sophomoric. Students thinking of getting a legal education, but who want to keep their philosophical interests alive (or perhaps even pursue a career in legal academia), must pick their schools carefully.... Students should bear in mind that intellectual standards in law schools are not the same as in philosophy departments. A good deal of work at many top law schools would be considered sub-standard by scholars in the cognate disciplines, including philosophy.... [P]hilosophy majors have repeatedly told me about their surprise and disappointment at some of what goes on in the classroom at leading law schools."

What are some books for a beginner to learn about Kant's critique of judgement?

What are some books for a beginner to learn about Kant's critique of judgement?

Well, I'm sure you can do BETTER than my book (with Edinburgh, 2000), but that's not going to stop me recommending it. More recent is a fine introductory commentary by Fiona Hughes (Continuum 2009).

For a philosophy student, what is the best language to learn? Particulary, a

For a philosophy student, what is the best language to learn? Particulary, a student interested in moral and political philosophy, and epistemology too. I think is english, and that's why I'm already learning it. If I'm right, what is the best after english? I'm a spanish native speaker.

Great question! Your choice of language may depend on your philosophical interests. If you are interested in Greco-Roman and philosophy in late Antiquity and Medieval philosophy, then Greek and Latin would be excellent. If you are interested in Indian or Hindu philosophy sanscrit would be best. Your Spanish will be good for reading a very fine, dynamic Spanish philosopher and essayist, Jose Ortega Y Gasset. Spanish philosophy (that is, philosophy in Spain, not just in Spanish) experienced hard times after the defeat of democracy in 1939, but after the restoration of democracy in 1978, Spain has been a place of multiple, alternative philosophical debates. Two outstanding philosophers to consider (AFTER you have read some Ortega, who is fabulous), I suggest you consult J.L. Lopez Aranguren and J.M. Valverde.

I think your pursuit of English is a great choice. I could be wrong, but I believe that probably the most number of philosophical works available today are accessible in English, more than any other single language. This is not just do to the works that are first published in English, but due to the wide ranging works that have been and are being translated into English. English is also more easy to learn than, say, Chinese in terms of numbers of characters and punctuation. When I was in graduate school (long, long ago...), after English the languages of choice were French and German. Because life is short, and in mastering English and reading current Spanish speaking philosophy (which also is flourishing in Mexico, Central and South America; on this, see Latin American Philosophy Today, edited by Jorge J. E. Garcia), I suggest choosing French or German, depending on your interests. If you want to read Heidegger in the original, go with German, if you want to read Sartre in the original, I suggest you go with French.

Is there a rule or a thing in philosophy that names the philosophical state of

Is there a rule or a thing in philosophy that names the philosophical state of believing in something and acting/following those beliefs, (simply because they were taught to you in school, by your friends, and/or by your family), (perhaps most people around you still believing in this thing), automatically sometimes even if your personal views are against it and even when large amounts of evidence are against it or pile up against it? "Teachism" is what I fan-named it. Since I used to be a fan of the paranormal, this would be nice to know.

In "The Fixation of Belief," American philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce distinguishes various methods people use to fix their beliefs. Two of these are related to the phenomena you describe: the "method of tenacity" (where people hang on to beliefs even against piles of evidence) and the "method of authority" (where people form and revise their beliefs on the basis of the beliefs that certain others hold or express). You can read this essay at