Maj
Min

Philosophy

About

The philosophy major at Saint Michael’s College is designed to ask the most important questions of the human heart. Unlike other programs that are founded primarily on logic and proofs, the curriculum at Saint Michael’s is based on reading and discussion of classic and contemporary literature, geared toward contesting stereotypes and inspiring you and your classmates to ask questions of yourselves and your world. Those questions might include: “What if anything gives meaning to our existence?” “Do we have a spiritual dimension; and if so, what does that mean?” and “How can I determine what should be my personal morality; and can it be both personal and objective?” By inspiring you and your fellows to ask such questions, our objective is to help you develop your mind and broaden your thinking – an essential component of a truly liberal education.

Sample 4 Year Plan

Fall

PH 103 Introduction to Philosophy
Foreign Language I
First Year Seminar
Liberal Studies course

Spring

200 level Philosophy elective
Foreign Language II
Liberal Studies course
Liberal Studies course

Fall

300 level Philosophy elective
Liberal Studies course
Electives

Spring

300 level Philosophy elective
Liberal Studies course
Electives

Fall

300 level Philosophy elective(s)
Junior Seminar
Electives

Spring

300 level Philosophy elective(s)
Electives

Fall

PH 490 Philosophy Senior Seminar
Electives

Spring

300 level Philosophy elective
Electives

In Depth

Philosophers’ ideas have become the very roots of the great social, political, educational, economic, literary, and scientific movements of every age. Thus, philosophy includes as one of its tasks a consideration of the presuppositions of other academic disciplines as well as the presuppositions of our fundamental social practices. This is one reason why philosophy is viewed as an essential component of a truly liberal education.

All students at Saint Michael’s take one basic course in philosophy to enable them to meet with these fundamental questions and to see how thinkers of the past and present have responded to them. This course introduces you to some basic philosophical issues with the help of Plato’s dialogues and other philosophical texts. For those students who wish to deepen their knowledge of the subject, philosophy electives are offered to acquaint them with the history, development, methods, and content of nearly the entire range of philosophy.

Some course topics you might explore are ethics, logic, philosophy of religion, of science, of technology and the environment, of mind, of human rights, of human existence, and of society. Additional topics include truth and propaganda, otherness and marginalization, and ethics of the heroic. There are also courses that cover the entire history of philosophy from Ancient times to the contemporary period: ancient, medieval, modern, contemporary (both continental and analytic) as well as more focused courses on major philosophers of the past. Philosophy majors will also complete an independent thesis or a senior seminar at the end of their studies.

 

Philosophy Learning Outcomes

Special Opportunities

Recently, Saint Michael’s signed an agreement with Vermont Law School that guarantees Saint Michael’s graduates admission into Vermont Law providing they meet the entrance requirements.

Several among the philosophy faculty emphasize the value of service-learning courses, wherein, as associate Professor Katherine Kirby puts it, “there is practical engagement with the community that breathes a certain life into the texts we read and discuss.” Students and professors in such courses find that service-learning opportunities set the stage for “a close philosophical (phenomenological) exploration of our lived experiences, especially in courses that challenge students to think about ethical or moral responsibility and engagement,” she says. She regularly leads service trips to Guyana built around philosophical reflection on “otherness.”

Assistant Professor Crystal L’Hôte notes two other special opportunities that she enjoys being a part of: “On campus, our philosophy students are encouraged to join in the lunchtime conversations that take place at the Philosophers’ Table, an informal, student-centered venue that has students debating topics ranging from the freedom of the will to the military draft. Off-campus, Saint Michael’s has been able to send a number of our students to present their work at an annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference outside Portland, Oregon; here, these students have presented their work and forged professional relationships with motivated undergraduates from colleges and universities across the nation.”

Careers

The philosophy major can be applied in a number of fields, including law, government and education. As a philosophy major, you will have the chance to work with professors on independent study projects. For example, one student is currently working with a professor on the study of Aristotle’s logic. The philosophy major is an excellent foundation for graduate school, teaching, law school and federal service of all kinds. In recent years, our alumni have attended such graduate schools as Yale University, Oxford University, Cambridge University, and Princeton University.

In Depth

Philosophers’ ideas have become the very roots of the great social, political, educational, economic, literary, and scientific movements of every age. Thus, philosophy includes as one of its tasks a consideration of the presuppositions of other academic disciplines as well as the presuppositions of our fundamental social practices. This is one reason why philosophy is viewed as an essential component of a truly liberal education.

All students at Saint Michael’s take one basic course in philosophy to enable them to meet with these fundamental questions and to see how thinkers of the past and present have responded to them. This course introduces you to some basic philosophical issues with the help of Plato’s dialogues and other philosophical texts. For those students who wish to deepen their knowledge of the subject, philosophy electives are offered to acquaint them with the history, development, methods, and content of nearly the entire range of philosophy.

Some course topics you might explore are ethics, logic, philosophy of religion, of science, of technology and the environment, of mind, of human rights, of human existence, and of society. Additional topics include truth and propaganda, otherness and marginalization, and ethics of the heroic. There are also courses that cover the entire history of philosophy from Ancient times to the contemporary period: ancient, medieval, modern, contemporary (both continental and analytic) as well as more focused courses on major philosophers of the past. Philosophy majors will also complete an independent thesis or a senior seminar at the end of their studies.

 

Philosophy Learning Outcomes

Special Opportunities

Recently, Saint Michael’s signed an agreement with Vermont Law School that guarantees Saint Michael’s graduates admission into Vermont Law providing they meet the entrance requirements.

Several among the philosophy faculty emphasize the value of service-learning courses, wherein, as associate Professor Katherine Kirby puts it, “there is practical engagement with the community that breathes a certain life into the texts we read and discuss.” Students and professors in such courses find that service-learning opportunities set the stage for “a close philosophical (phenomenological) exploration of our lived experiences, especially in courses that challenge students to think about ethical or moral responsibility and engagement,” she says. She regularly leads service trips to Guyana built around philosophical reflection on “otherness.”

Assistant Professor Crystal L’Hôte notes two other special opportunities that she enjoys being a part of: “On campus, our philosophy students are encouraged to join in the lunchtime conversations that take place at the Philosophers’ Table, an informal, student-centered venue that has students debating topics ranging from the freedom of the will to the military draft. Off-campus, Saint Michael’s has been able to send a number of our students to present their work at an annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference outside Portland, Oregon; here, these students have presented their work and forged professional relationships with motivated undergraduates from colleges and universities across the nation.”

Careers

The philosophy major can be applied in a number of fields, including law, government and education. As a philosophy major, you will have the chance to work with professors on independent study projects. For example, one student is currently working with a professor on the study of Aristotle’s logic. The philosophy major is an excellent foundation for graduate school, teaching, law school and federal service of all kinds. In recent years, our alumni have attended such graduate schools as Yale University, Oxford University, Cambridge University, and Princeton University.