What is Philosophy?
Philosophy is the oldest academic discipline and is devoted to answering the biggest questions of life. Here are just a few of the questions that philosophers at EIU are currently debating and studying:
- What does a truly happy life look like?
What is the difference between a morally right and a morally wrong act?
Is there life after death?
Is there anything I can know with certainty?
- How does the mind relate to the brain?
- What kind of person do I want to be?
What is the relation between morality and law?
Why be moral?
- Can I prove that I am not in the Matrix?
Does time really “flow” or “move”?
What is a just society?
Does God exist?
Philosophy as a discipline has always been devoted to debate and conversation. Plato’s most important philosophical works are dialogues between Socrates and many of the great (and not-so great) men of his day. Philosophy is a big 2,500 year long conversation. If you enjoy respectful and rigorous argument about important questions, then philosophy might just be for you.
The philosophy faculty here at EIU — which currently includes nine professors representing all of the major branches of both Western and Eastern philosophy — is devoted to continuing this fascinating conversation.
We offer a major in Philosophy as well as minors in both Philosophy and Religious Studies. We also participate in several interdisciplinary minors including Pre-Law, Criminology, Medieval Studies, Neuroscience, and Asian Studies. With a faculty-to-student ratio of about 1-to-3, philosophy majors at Eastern receive an uncommon amount of individual attention.
The department has a friendly and informal atmosphere with students and faculty regularly debating philosophical issues in the department office (which serves as our central hub), hallways, offices, during Philosophy Club, and during our weekly departmental lunches (friends of philosophy are always welcome). Please feel free to stop by!
Our General Education Courses include:
PHI 1000G – God, Freedom, Knowledge and Values
RLS 1200G – Introduction to Religious Studies
PHI 1900G – Introduction to Logical and Critical Reasoning
PHI 3100G – Cultural Foundations I
PHI 3110G – Cultural Foundations II
Social and Behavioral Sciences:
PHI 2500G – The Good Life: An Introduction to Ethics
PHI 3050G – Social and Political Philosophy
PHI 3700G – Language and Human Nature
EIU 4167G – The Meaning of Life
(not open to Philosophy majors)
Most of these courses are also available as Honors courses.
- Our program is represented in five interdisciplinary minor programs:
- Medieval Studies
- Asian Studies
- In addition, we are home to our own interdisciplinary minor in Religious Studies.
- We also offer Departmental Honors program.
- We offer Study Abroad: The Good Life: Italy.
- We participate in courses offered by the School of Continuing Education, both on and off campus.
- *We offer several online courses:
- PHI 1000G God, Freedom, Knowledge and Values
- PHI 1200G Introduction to Religious Studies
- PHI 1900G Introduction to Logical and Critical Reasoning
- PHI 2500G The Good Life: An Introduction to Ethics
- PHI 3020 Ethics
- RLS 3900 Special Topics in Religious Studies
*these courses are not available to on-campus students during Fall and Spring.
- We offer many opportunities for academic recognition:
- The Athenaeum Philosophy Scholarship
- The Robert Barford Philosophy Scholarship
- Outstanding Senior award
- Phi Sigma Tau, the international philosophy honor society
- And also opportunities for social, intellectual, and collegial interaction:
- Philosophy Club
- Symposium, the student philosophy publication
- We also provide various ways for students to pursue their individual research interests, such as Independent Studies.
- These services allow students the opportunity to voice their academic preferences and the flexibility to shape them.
- For example, philosophy major Andy Masters was featured in International Educator Magazine (Jan/Feb 2011) for his self-designed education abroad program in northern Thailand. Andy worked with the Honors College, Study Abroad and the Philosophy Department to create an "internship" that allowed him to pursue his education in a way that enhanced his particular interests. Philosophy does not traditionally have "internships," but we work to further educational goals in ways that may be as diverse as our student body.
- Another example, Cecily Randle-El, a philosophy major with a strong interest in writing and publishing, worked to create the first philosophy student publication: Symposium.
- These things happened not because the philosophy department requested them; but because we provided an environment where students felt comfortable enough to ask for resources to pursue their individual interests and goals. Philosophy, and EIU, supported them.