Socrates claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living. Why not? One reply
is that since our unexamined opinions and values are often inseparable from who
we are and how we conceive of ourselves, our satisfactions, our relations to others,
reality itself, our lives, and the worth of our lives depend on our efforts to achieve
greater understanding. The examination and critique of claims to truth and rightness
is central to philosophy. The promise it holds out is that of greater self-understanding,
involving the gradual liberation from false beliefs and partial views of ourselves
and our world. Because of this, it has an essential place in the liberal arts curriculum.
The aim of the philosophy department is to introduce students to the inquiries of
important philosophers and to aid them in developing and in exercising their own
critical, independent thought. To this end, philosophy courses encourage students
to formulate issues and questions and to evaluate critically philosophers' arguments
and their own in classroom discussion as well as in the writing of papers.
Confucius and the Gate of Great Achievement, Beijing, China