The Department of Philosophy at Amherst College welcomes all students, from those who would like to sample a course or two in philosophy, to those who would like to major in the discipline - or perhaps even go on to study the subject in graduate school.
Students new to philosophy should feel comfortable enrolling in any of the entry-level courses numbered in the 100s or 200s. 200-level courses usually have a narrower focus than 100-level ones - but all are equally accessible to anyone without any prior introduction to philosophy.
Philosophy explores central aspects of our lives that often go unexamined. Without much reflection, we daily rely upon notions of truth, knowledge, beauty, evil, happiness, freedom and justice. And phenomena such as time, causation, obligation, language, consciousness and rationality structure our lives in ways we take for granted. We are everywhere guided by assumptions that philosophy brings explicitly to light, and puts into larger perspective. For this reason, people are often gripped by the questions philosophy asks. In this sense, philosophy is essential and unavoidable.
An education in philosophy conveys a sense of wonder about ourselves and our world. It achieves this partly through exploration of philosophical texts, which comprise some of the most stimulating creations of the human intellect, and partly through direct and personal engagement with philosophical issues. At the same time, an education in philosophy cultivates a critical stance to this elicited puzzlement, which would otherwise merely bewilder us.
If you have any questions about philosophy, about our courses in philosophy, about whether philosophy might be something for you, please do not hesitate to contact the Chair of the Department. We would be delighted to have a conversation with you.