To engage in philosophy is to ask a variety of questions about the world and our place in it. What can we know? What should we do? What may we hope? What makes human beings human? These questions, in various forms, and others like them are not inventions of philosophers; on the contrary, they occur to most people simply as they live their lives. Many of us ask them as children, but later either ignore them, or accept answers we can live with. Philosophers, however, seek to keep such questions open, and to address them through reasoned discussion and argument, instead of accepting answers to them based on opinion or prejudice.
The program in philosophy is designed to aid students in thinking about these issues, by acquainting them with influential work in the field, past and present, and by training them to grapple with these issues themselves. The program emphasizes training in clear, critical thinking and in effective writing. Philosophy courses center around class discussions and the writing of interpretive and critical essays.