A Straight Answer
Here’s a straight answer: philosophy is the pursuit of truth and
wisdom in areas where we need to inquire more deeply than our present
conventions allow. In philosophy, we ask questions that in other areas
we would have to brush aside. Philosophy is what happens when we ask
deeper questions about how human beings learn than a survey or brain
scan will reveal. Philosophy is what happens when we ask not just what
the Bible says God is, but what it would mean for something to be God.
Philosophy is what happens when judges ask questions about the purposes
of law and don’t just hang their hats on judicial precedent. Philosophy
is also what happens when we instruct children about what is right and
The good news is that in a sense, you’re already doing philosophy.
Everyone is. If you’ve ever made an adult decision to vote, register
with selective service, pay your taxes, go to church, or counsel a friend
about a difficult decision, then you’ve thought about philosophical
issues. The only real question is whether you’ve done it well.
Jack Mulder, Philosophy Department Chair