Congratulations to Lacey Davidson, Winner of the 2012 Remsburg-Klive Award!
"Philosophy" means -- literally -- love of wisdom. The word was coined to refer to those who don't settle for simple answers to big questions. They seek deeper truths, and they are willing to look beyond what is superficial and conventional to discern what is real. They don’t let others think for them. They want to figure things out for themselves. For this reason, of course, philosophy is not for everyone. If it is for you, we can help.
Traditionally philosophy has been a quest for truth and wisdom. It primarily concerns itself with those fundamental beliefs by which people have tried to make sense of their lives - to understand people and their place in the universe. In this quest, it has focused attention on three questions:
What can we know? (epistemology)
What is reality? (metaphysics)
How should we live? (ethics)
Following Socrates who held that "the unexamined life is not worth living" philosophy has always been critical and analytic but it has also been synthetic and comprehensive, developing into the classic speculative systems of Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, and others. The study of philosophy involves serious study of the works of the great philosophers, a mastery of philosophical methods, and serious inquiry into major philosophical issues. To be a philosopher is to devote one's efforts to the clarification of these issues and to search for sound understanding.
Courses in philosophy at Wittenberg are designed to explore the full range of theories concerning the nature of people and their place in the universe and to develop ideas that can help students make sense out of both facts and values. They are intended (1) to equip the student with the basic tools of philosophical analysis, tools for dealing with those basic problems, principles, concepts, and methodologies that occur in other disciplines or fields of inquiry, (2) to provide the student with an understanding of the basic ideas that have shaped and still shape our cultures, both Western and non-Western, and (3) to furnish the student with opportunities to engage in the personal exploration of the meaning of life.
The Wittenberg Philosophy Department currently consists of three full-time and one or more part-time members. The academic background and interests of the faculty span the full range of philosophic styles and assure a broad exposure to the field. Department offerings include a comprehensive set of standard courses and a variety of topics or special interest courses.
We invite you to look further into our website where, in addition to information about Wittenberg Philosophy, you will find recent Wittenberg photos we think you'll enjoy.
Stand-Up Ethics Program (STEP)
The Stand-up Ethics Program (STEP) seeks to provide young adults with tools, such as critical reasoning, evaluative, and implementation skills, that are needed to recognize, assess, and respond to moral problems. Furthermore, STEP seeks to develop ethical sensitivity to a variety of perspectives that are generated by complex moral issues.
STEP takes Wittenberg University’s motto “Pass it on” to the community with its commitment to fostering moral literacy and ethical leadership in and among young adults in the Springfield Community.
A Student's Perspective:
Students who graduate from Wittenberg with a Philosophy B.A. go on to do great things. Their degree plays a critical role in their careers, and even their life, beyond college. But don't take our word for it. Here are some students' thoughts on their Philosophy degree and exactly why it is so important to them.
I often hear people complain about reading and discussing philosophy: it is too abstract, they say, too far from the concrete and irrelevant to the problems we confront daily on a local and global scale. This may be true in some philosophy classrooms, but I never found this to be the case at Wittenberg. Underlying every class discussion was the assumption that the material we were studying was not only relevant, but essential to understanding the problems we face as a world. Our conversations were something like experimentation; we explored how different ideas or theories result from particular circumstances, and how they affect perceptions of education, the body, and human rights. If you simply browse the list of courses, you will see how practically-oriented the department is: 'Gender, Science, and Medicine,' 'Knowledge and Social Change,' 'Philosophy of Revolution in Latin America,' 'Ethics and Psychology."' My time spent studying under the philosophy professors at Wittenberg prompted me to think differently, read and write differently, buy differently, eat differently, and vote differently. These aren't habits that you discard after graduation, but ones that you carry with you for the rest of your life.
-Alison Davis 2006; teaching English in Slovakia.
"Given my interest in pursuing graduate studies in philosophy, the philosophy department at Wittenberg prepared me for the intensive program that is to be expected at the graduate level. The rigorous standards set by the faculty enabled me to easily transition into professional studies."
-Rich Wilson 2006, graduate program in Philosophy at Virginia Tech
"Currently I am living in Jamaica. Under the auspices of a US Fulbright grant, I am conducting interviews with local farmers to gather information on the phenomenon of raising chickens and livestock on city streets in the very urban capital of Kingston. Every day, I use the skills I developed while studying philosophy. I think back to the importance my professors placed on reading challenging articles from around the world, learning to listen close enough to an argument to really understand it from that person’s point of view, and learning to present one’s ideas confidently and articulately, both inside the classroom and publicly. These are skills I use whether I am analyzing data, reading studies by regional scholars, or relying on confidence and public speaking skills to meet with strangers and ask them to share their lives with me."
-Alison Helmuth 2007, Fulbright Scholar in Jamaica.
"The philosophy department paid particular attention the ability to create a plan and a timeline for ourselves as we began our senior theses. I'm capable of staying on track with nearly any project now. My experience with research has also helped me be employable. Writing bibliographies for children's literature is easy compared to the massive excavation of obscure academic literature that I completed for my senior thesis. And now as I prepare for graduate school several years later, I'm still finding that the professors in the philosophy department are willing to offer their support and guidance."
-Emily Ann Guhde 2005, former Teach for America teacher, currently a children’s librarian.