Illinois College -> Academics -> Majors and Programs -> Philosophy


What is distinctive about philosophy at Illinois College?

Philosophy is about big questions. What’s goodness? What’s truth? Do I have a soul? Why should I be moral? At IC, students consider these kinds of questions by reading philosophical works of the past and present. In all courses, philosophical argumentation is emphasized as students learn to define terms clearly, make distinctions, qualify their statements, analyze evidence, and present examples and counterexamples. As a result, students develop the liberal skills of reading, writing, listening, speaking, and thinking well. These skills are indispensable for a good human life, and they are desired by every employer.

What opportunities are available for students?
Philosophy majors and minors have the opportunity, in their senior year, to pursue an independent study on a topic of their choice. Collaborating with a faculty member, students in recent years have conducted independent studies on Aquinas’s Summa theologiae, Spinoza’s Ethics, Stoicism, and Women in Philosophy.
Students interested in other majors or minors are also well-served by philosophy courses. Courses in the history of Western philosophy (Ancient, Medieval, and Modern) complement a major or minor in history, and other courses complement a major or minor in computer science (Computer Ethics), religion (Philosophy of Religion), economics, finance, or accounting (Business Ethics), and political science and international studies (Survey of Political Philosophy). As a result, the IC philosophy program prepares students—whether philosophy majors or not—for graduate school and careers in philosophy, business, law, education, medicine, public service, and seminary.

Why Study Religion or Philosophy?
The Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa reported a the results of a survey of students majoring in theology at Georgetown University between 1970-2003. Of the 182 respondents, 33% had a bachelor's degree, 33% earned a master's degree, and 33% received a doctorate (JD, PhD, EdD, DDM, MD, or DMin).
25% are educators, 16% are in law, 12% medicine, 8% business, 7% non-profits, 5% government, 4% finance, 4% fine arts. Surprisingly, only 4% are in careers related to religion (clergy, missionaries, etc.). Other careers (each constituting 3% or less of respondents) include counseling, writing, homemaking, continuing education, information technology, environmental science and culinary arts.
Many respondents "reported that their theology study and interaction with faculty and students had significantly influenced their life values and had increased their ability to think critically. . . to express themselves effectively and to strengthen and deepen their religious experience." (J. of TAK, Fall 2005, pp. 54-55)

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