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What is Philosophy?
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 wrong.

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