Come forth, lovers of wisdom and learn why a Philosophy degree offered by an international university would fit you like a glove!
If you are naturally curios, don’t settle for easy answers, are fascinated by seemingly unsolvable scenarios, love reading and getting into debates, while trying to understand other people’s thinking processes, then a Philosophy degree might be perfect for you.
And here are a few universities we recommend for Philosophy studies:
- Kansas State University, the US
- University of Bristol, the UK
- Central European University (CEU), Austria
- KU Leuven, Belgium
- Radboud University, the Netherlands
Still not convinced? Here are 10 reasons why you should study a Bachelor’s or Master’s in Philosophy:
1. Ask the most fundamental questions
Philosophy loves asking all kinds of questions. And asking the right questions is often more important than the answers themselves. By doing so, we realise there often isn’t one correct answer, or an answer that will not change as we evolve and keep changing. So, by studying Philosophy you will learn how to ask the best questions, and how to challenge your personal opinions that you take for granted.
You will discuss profound questions about how human beings think, what Philosophy actually is, if there are limits to our knowledge, and the nature of our reality. On the other hand, you can also focus on more down-to-earth questions such as:
What is language? What is good and evil? What is time? What makes us human? What is the connection between brain and mind? How can we be happy? Is there a God? How do we minimise inequality? What are the responsibilities and limits of governments? When do scientific advancements start to step into dangerous territory?
2. Learn a little bit of everything
Philosophers love to talk about literally anything and everything. While studying Philosophy, you will learn how to think correctly but, most of all, you will question and discuss important ideas about all subjects related to human interest. You have the potential of visiting topics from a large variety of disciplines such as: Law and Politics, Mathematics, Linguistics, Arts, Religion, Medicine, Biology, History, and much more.
Some examples of classes you will study during your Philosophy degree include:
- Metaphysics – discuss the most basic principles of life such as being, knowing, identity and time.
- Philosophy of Science – learn the principles science has been founded on, and the ideas that have influenced our scientific thinking.
- Philosophy of History – asks if there is an objective history and how different perspectives influence the way we understand our history.
- Philosophy of Language – understanding how we use language, how language is dependent on our thinking and if it is more than a tool we use to communicate.
- Political Philosophy – analyses concepts like power, justice, government and laws, their importance and limitations.
- Ethics – aims to figure out what good and evil is, and if there are objective methods to test if a certain behaviour or decision is ethical or not.
- Epistemology – studies what it means to know and how to distinguish from what is knowledge and what is personal belief.
- Philosophy of Religion – aims to analyse religious issues using rational tools, without relying on subjective faith.
- Logic – learn to test if statements are consistent, valid or true using logical instruments.
- Philosophy of Art – what are the ideas communicated using the art medium like painting, music, film, and more.
- Aesthetics – analyses what beauty is and what we should consider beautiful.
All mentioned courses are gathered into a few main specialisations you can focus on once you’ve figured out which branch of Philosophy you’re more interested in. These include but are not limited to:
- Philosophy of Culture
- Ethics and Political Philosophy
- Philosophy of Science and Epistemology
3. Study anywhere in the world
Philosophy is a discipline with a long-standing tradition. Even if it doesn’t always seem like it, people have been thinking about the nature of life and humanity ever since they were able to think, and there isn’t a place on earth that doesn’t need one or more philosophers.
Because Philosophy is such an established discipline, you can find good degrees in all corners of the world. Here are just a few countries offering great Bachelors or Masters in Philosophy:
- Bachelors in Philosophy in the UK
- Bachelors in Philosophy in the US
- Bachelors in Philosophy in Germany
- Bachelors in Philosophy in the Netherlands
- Masters in Philosophy in the UK
- Masters in Philosophy in the US
- Masters in Philosophy in Australia
- Masters in Philosophy in Canada
4. Discuss exciting topics and do thought experiments
Philosophy is cool. Just pick any exciting show or deep movie you’ve ever watched, and it’s probably influenced by one or more philosophical ideas. Philosophy might be right for you if you’re fascinated by movies like The Matrix, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, The Truman Show, Brazil, The Seventh Seal, Inception, 12 Angry Men, Waking Life, My Dinner with Andre, and many more. If you haven’t watched any of these movies, you can get a taste of some hot topics from Philosophy by checking them out.
You may have also heard of famous thought experiments meant to create theoretical scenarios to test a Philosophical idea and start a debate, leading to practical real-life applications. Do any of these sound familiar: Schrodinger’s cat, if a tree falls in a forest, brains in vats, the trolley problem, the twin earth, the Turing machine, the survival lottery?
5. Understand how human thinking has developed over time
While studying Philosophy, you will start to understand the connection between how people think now and how they used to think. You will witness how tiny ideas have developed and turned into major discoveries or into objects of intense research.
You will also learn a lot about the context in which these ideas emerged and the influence they had on art, politics, science, economy, religion, and the ways in which societies lived. By understanding them, we learn from the past, try to fix mistakes, and prevent future ones.
You will have the chance to discover entire philosophical traditions that you didn’t know existed, that were created on the critique of the ideas of predecessors. Philosophers love to bring a critical eye to the ideas of earlier philosophers and build upon them.
You will learn all the important names and works in the history of human ideas, from philosophers like Aristotle and Plato, to Descartes and Spinoza, to Kant, Mill, and Hegel, Heidegger, Sartre, Wittgenstein, or Russel.
6. Develop critical and structured thinking
One of the most important tools Philosophy offers is critical thinking. Critical thinkers are comfortable with asking questions, looking at problems from different perspectives and not taking things for granted. Especially in present times, Philosophical thinking is a great way to avoid manipulation from shocking statements, fake news, and political propaganda.
Is a certain idea sufficiently supported and does it stand when being put up to scrutiny? Are there examples that contradict a statement that everyone seems to take for granted?
Most importantly, Philosophy teaches you that there are few final answers and that ideas depend a lot on perspective and context.
7. Learn to read and write like a philosopher
Philosophy students do a lot of reading. And most philosophy books are quite thick. But that doesn’t mean you will read entire piles of books in a single semester. You will actually do a lot of selective reading on key concepts. In fact, you might spend all semester discussing 1-2 chapters from an essential work of a philosopher.
But you will learn how to approach that text, what to look for, and how to follow presuppositions and logical arguments. You also never read one author in a void. So, you will most likely read fragments from multiple authors on the same topic.
You will do a lot of research, learn how to identify correct information, look for supporting materials, read commentary, and compare opinions. Philosophers are also concerned with how concepts have been translated from different languages and if ideas have been lost or altered over time. You’ll also learn that text footnotes offer important details, sometimes more important than the text itself.
You will learn how to write and structure an essay, and how to summarise complex ideas into bite-size, comprehensive information.
8. No question too dumb, no topic too sacred
Another great skill you will develop will be the art of debating and challenging common beliefs. You’ll learn how to talk even with people you disagree with, listening to their points of view and weighing positions without assuming that the other is wrong. Understanding different perspectives is essential for philosophical thinking. You will constantly have to challenge or defend your own ideas and beliefs.
Most Philosophy teachers encourage class discussions and usually nurture an informal learning setting. Not even they are safe from the scrutiny of their students.
9. Apply your knowledge to more careers than you expect
In popular thinking, Philosophy studies don’t get a good reputation when it comes to the job market. But this is an unfortunate misconception. The skills gained during your Philosophy studies are literal gold for your future career. Skills like critical thinking, organisation, synthetisation, adaptability, great communication, listening to all opinions and a ton of knowledge about the world come with great and often underappreciated benefits. Employers love independent thinkers who are focused on problem-solving with out-of-the-box ideas.
Most Philosophy students actually don’t go on to become Philosophy professors, but get employed in a wide range of fields such as law, business, education, journalism, medicine, marketing, public policy, government, public relations, social services, and many more.
A Philosophy Bachelor’s mixes well with a Master’s in another more specialised discipline. A Master’s in Philosophy after a Bachelor’s in a totally different discipline is a great influx of skill that can lead to career advancements after graduation.
If you want to become a philosopher, you’re also probably going to become a teacher, so you should probably aim for a Ph.D. in Philosophy.
If all fails, there’s always a career in security.
10. Philosophy is a constantly modern subject
Just like human ideas, Philosophy never gets old and it’s never stagnant. While we keep turning back to the first philosophers and their rich insights, we build upon their questions. And, as society progresses and technology develops, new challenges emerge to the way we live, how we understand ourselves, and the moral decisions we make.
Philosophers continue to ask tough questions on topics like cloning, assisted suicide, stem cell research, the development of AI, the effects of globalisation, the climate change crisis, immigration, women’s rights, minority rights and freedoms, animal rights, relationships between governments and economy, and much, much more.
That is why philosophers consider that it’s more important to learn how to think correctly rather than learn theory by heart. Because ideas change and there are countless perspectives; we can never take things for granted and should approach each situation with an open mind and a fresh look. And Philosophy was made for this — to create rational, moral human beings who are aware of their limits and want to build a better, more just world.