Overview, Philosophy | Earlham College Skip to Content


You can find us on the third floor of Carpenter Hall, east wing. Our convener is Ferit Güven.

Why Study Philosophy?

Because it asks fundamental questions. Because it explores how to live a good life. Because it takes seriously the questions that arise in life and tries to answer them. Because it exposes and questions assumptions. Because it helps you find your own answers and your own standards for answers. Because it calls on both your creativity and your rigor. Because it uses all your interests and everything you know, from art and literature, history and social science, to mathematics and natural science. Because it makes you articulate in speaking and writing, clear in thinking and reasoning, and able to draw connections among ideas of all kinds. Because you have decisions to make, evidence to weigh, opinions to assess, mysteries to contemplate, a world to understand, a life to live.

Philosophy Courses to Get You Started

If you have never taken a philosophy course, then consider taking any of the following. They preserve the options of majoring or minoring in philosophy.

  • PHIL 120 — Introduction to Philosophy
  • PHIL 155 — Ancient Greek Philosophy
  • PHIL 160 — Dialectic and Dialogue in Philosophy
  • PHIL 180 — Existentialism
  • PHIL 220 — American Philosophy

If you intend to choose philosophy as your major, then you should take PHIL 250 — Modern Philosophy. If you've already had PHIL 250, then take PHIL 350 — 19th Century Philosophy. If you've already had PHIL 350, then you probably don't need this overview.

If you are an upper-division student not interested in our major or minor, but exploring philosophy, then consider taking a "Philosophy of ..." course in your major field, such as PHIL 370 — Philosophy of Social Science, PHIL 360 — Philosophy of Natural Science, or PHIL 410 Philosophy of History. Our "Philosophy of ..." courses encourage critical and reflective work in relation to other disciplines. Most of these courses require completion of the first year courses or previous work in the field to be studied or the consent of the instructor. We offer "Philosophy of ..." courses in various fields:

  • PHIL 270 — Law
  • PHIL 320 — Religion
  • PHIL 355 — Education
  • PHIL 360 — Natural Science
  • PHIL 365 — Language
  • PHIL 370 — Social Science
  • PHIL 410 — History

For more information view our courses page. There you will find course descriptions, prerequisites, credit hours, general education credit, offering frequency

Our Departmental Orientation

If our department has an orientation, it is toward the history of philosophy. Our program is respected by graduate schools for the mastery our graduates have shown of the history of philosophy. We emphasize the reading of primary texts from Greek antiquity to the present in order to show that ancient philosophy is not obsolete and contemporary philosophy is not rootless. Our students learn to converse with the major figures of the Western tradition, as well as to respond them critically. In the process they learn the vocabulary, the methods, the questions, and the standards of the discipline, as well as its implications and limits.

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