When we were reading Aristotle in my seminar class, my professor asked if any of the students had taken philosophy courses or was a philosophy major. Only one student raised their hand - I'm not sure if he was a Philosophy major or minor - but the fact that he was the only one who had taken some philosophy courses sparked my curiosity.
According to the Undergraduate Bulletin, philosophy is one of the core curriculum requirements. I remember taking a Business Ethics course my freshman year to satisfy the philosophy requirement. I wasn't expecting it to be as worthwhile as it turned out to be. We had a take- home exam for the final, which involved addressing a business ethics issue based on what we had learned in class. I was surprised to actually enjoy doing the assignment. Considering it was the final and I was ready to start my winter break, it was a nice change of pace to have a final that made you think critically, but not feel bored while doing it (and wishing it was the weekend already).
I'm not too surprised that I don't know many who are Philosophy majors or minors at Dominican. The impression I get is that it's not exactly a popular major choice. I may be wrong. Just considering how today's society is all about actively doing something fast and efficiently - philosophy seems to be synonymous with slow - just sitting there thinking critically and who knows how long it may take for a reasonable answer to come out as a result.
I don't think today's technological, fast-paced society gives philosophy a chance to prove itself. I'm sure some think that Aristotle, Socrates, Plato and other philosophers of the past have settled the issue of philosophy. Why do we need philosophers today? And what is the incentive to be a philosopher/study philosophy?
What is the point?
Though I think that philosophy can be a headache-inducing activity because when you think about the big questions - sometimes it's like you're going around in circles. There never is a right answer, it seems, to philosophical questions. But maybe that's what so interesting about philosophy - it makes you think and gives you room to make a conclusion with the knowledge that you can change your mind. My professor for seminar did mention how one ancient Greek philosopher didn't like writing his ideas down because he thought that if they were "set in stone" through writing rather than circulating in his head and told orally...that that would prevent him from changing his mind.
We're so focused on making sure everything is recorded on paper today that this idea reinforces why we do it. We want things set in stone - we want to have a transcript of what someone said so that we have written proof if the person changes their mind in a later speech, for example.
So, I just wanted to know what persuades students at Dominican to decide on philosophy as a major or minor? What do they plan to get out of it? Do they ever find themselves asking the question, "What is the point?"