What is the nature of human beings? What is morality? How do we determine what is right and what is wrong?
These fundamental questions are just a few of the thought-provoking issues that Furman philosophy majors consider. In the course of their studies, philosophy students at Furman learn to interpret and evaluate different ideas, to develop a constructively critical attitude toward their lives, and to clarify their own world views.
Because philosophy courses touch on so many topics and ideas, they are popular with the entire student body. Students who plan careers in law, medicine, business and many other fields find philosophy courses highly relevant. As a result, philosophy majors have the opportunity to interact with a variety of students, evaluate different perspectives and viewpoints, and engage in spirited discussions on issues that affect everyone.
One of the major advantages of a philosophy major at Furman is the chance to study with teacher-scholars who emphasize close relationships with their students and are committed to exciting, imaginative teaching. Students also may choose from a broad range of courses in Western and Asian philosophy; indeed, the department has an especially thorough non-Western program.
Philosophy majors often assist faculty members in teaching or research projects through the Furman Advantage Program, and on occasion they publish their work in professional journals or in the Furman Humanities Review. In addition, the Philosophy Club meets throughout the year for programs and discussions of current issues, films and books.
The Philosophical Course
Considered one of the pillars forming the foundation of a classical education, the study of philosophy enriches the student by adding depth and breadth to the thought processes.
Flexibility is a key ingredient in the philosophy program at Furman. Any combination of eight courses that includes two courses in historical foundations of philosophy and a seminar satisfies the requirement for the major. Students consult the head of the department to plan a program that fits their needs.
The department offers philosophy courses in the areas of art, religion, science as well as courses in ethics and logic. Other courses focus on existentialism, the history of philosophy, and the development of philosophical thought in the work of Plato, Descartes, Kant, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche and others. One course examines the political and moral relationship of the individual to the state, and the medical ethics class studies ethical issues in health care and does field work in the Greenville hospital system.
All philosophy courses at Furman help students develop their talents in such areas as problem solving, communication, persuasion and writing skills. By working with challenging texts and examining different ideas, philosophy majors learn to analyze arguments, formulate their own opinions, and express themselves clearly both orally and in writing.
Looking to Your Future
The skills that philosophy majors develop—including the ability to organize ideas, synthesize complex issues, solve problems and communicate the solutions effectively—are prized by employers and can be applied to virtually any career. Furman philosophy graduates have found success in a variety of areas, among them banking, insurance, marketing, medicine, ministry, and teaching.
Many students find philosophy excellent preparation for the demands of law school. In recent years, Furman philosophy majors have gone on to study law at such schools as Duke, Emory, University of North Carolina, Wake Forest and Washington & Lee. Others have enrolled in divinity school at Duke, Harvard and Vanderbilt, and some have pursued graduate programs in philosophy at Emory, University of Georgia, Penn State, Tulane, and Vanderbilt. One recent graduate, who completed a double major in philosophy and economics, earned a prestigious National Science Foundation fellowship to study economics at Princeton and is now teaching at the Harvard Business School. Another received a Mellon Fellowship to study at the University of Pittsburgh, and another received a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Germany.
Some of our philosophy majors have become professors themselves, and not only in philosophy. A glance at our majors’ activities in post graduate academics reveals that Furman graduates have taught a diversity of topics/disciplines (including philosophy) at: Harvard Business School, Rutgers University, The U.S. Naval Academy, University of North Carolina, Baylor University, and Vanderbilt University.