Explore the universal questions about the meaning of Being that have occupied humans since the dawn of history.
Philosophy is at the heart of nearly every area of study. Philosophy picks up when other fields stop asking questions. While scientists try to figure out the facts and laws of nature; philosophy asks: Why is nature ordered at all, and why is there something rather than nothing at all, and what are the limits of what humans can know? Doctors, lawyers, and other professionals try to figure out what the right thing is to do; philosophy asks: What does it mean for something to be right or wrong, and where do the good and the right come from? Artists, writers and musicians try to figure out how to create great works of art; philosophy asks: What is beauty, what is art, who decides, and how? Nearly every great intellectual movement, theory and belief system in our society owes something to philosophy.
Philosophy at Mercer is interested in and studies the subject matters for many of the other traditional disciplines. Subjects covered by philosophy courses include: ethics (applied and theoretical), theories of knowledge, logic, art, film, literature, politics, law, gender, medicine, mind and body, and religion (Abrahamic and non-Western). Students explore these areas by reading classic works of philosophy that constitute some of the most important works in the Western intellectual heritage, but may also study views expressed by virtually any culture or ethnic group, including ones extracted from the news of the day. Philosophy is both personal and communal; each student must seek his or her own understanding and perspective, but learning requires critical analysis, making one's case to others, and listening to their views.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, philosophy has been a source for thousands of years for those seeking how one should live one's life, and particularly, how to live a good life.
About the Major
A major may be earned by taking 30 semester hours in Philosophy. Philosophy majors must complete a comprehensive examination consisting of essay questions on broad philosophical topics with significant reference to philosophers and philosophic positions central to the western philosophical tradition. Students will be eligible to take this examination after completing 75 hours of course credit and at least two History of Philosophy courses.
About the Minor
A minor consists of a minimum of 15 hours in Philosophy and includes at least two upper-division courses.
Majors may attain Departmental Honors in Philosophy by meeting the following requirements:
- Maintain an overall 3.5 grade point average in philosophy.
- Complete satisfactorily one of the following courses: Great Philosophers, Advanced Topics in Ethics, or 300-level Special Topics in Philosophy.
- Present an honors thesis based on a closely supervised research project to be approved by all members of the Department.
Outreach and Engaged Learning
During most summers the philosophy department leads a study abroad program. Students learn philosophy relevant to the location visited, and have opportunities to link philosophical study to the art, architecture and culture of the region. Past study abroad locations have included Athens, Paris, and Florence.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
Upper level students have the opportunity to participate in an intensive study of some significant topic in philosophy, not otherwise covered in departmental course offerings, as well as a Senior Seminar in philosophical skill development, and an independent study, all which contain significant opportunities for research and presentation.
Faculty Interface and Class Size
Philosophy courses are generally discussion-oriented, with a high priority placed on engaging students and personalized attention. Lecturing to large numbers of students is not part of the Mercer philosophy program. Typical class sizes for upper-division courses are less than 15 students. Many majors work one-on-one with a faculty member on student-developed research projects.
- A philosophy degree is good preparation for nearly any career. Philosophy majors on average do exceptionally well on graduate exams, including LSAT, GRE, GMAT, and MCAT.
- Many philosophy majors go on to graduate school; law school is a very common choice. Recent graduates have also gone to medical school, and a wide variety of masters and PhD programs, including: philosophy, mathematics, classics, public administration, and middle eastern studies.
- Many philosophy majors go on to teach, including several who have served with Teach for America.
- Philosophy majors are disproportionately found in leadership positions. Majors hold a number of prominent positions in local government: one recent graduate is the Executive Director of the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority. Until recently the presidents of each of the three four-year colleges in Macon were philosophy majors.