At its heart, philosophy is concerned with how to lead our lives, with the difference between what matters and what only seems to matter, the difference between living and merely surviving. In different centuries and cultures, this central concern has been approached from very different points of view: from that of spiritual practices whether secular or religious, from that of one of the sciences such as economics or psychology, but always concerned with giving the best possible reasons for its answers to the existential question of how to lead our lives.
Perhaps it was the demand to give the best possible reasons that induced philosophy to invent a number of what can appear to be separate domains of philosophy conceived as a rigorous professional discipline. Logic addresses itself directly to the ways and patterns of reasoning. Ethics addresses itself to matters of right and wrong, justice and injustice. Political and legal philosophy approach those ethical issues tuned to a special concern for the political and legal contexts within which we live. Metaphysics is concerned with what exists and with what accounts for the being of whatever is. Epistemology is concerned with how we know what we know, or if we can ever know anything at all. Aesthetics is concerned with beauty in the arts, in nature, and in our lives. Nevertheless, however separate these different domains of philosophy can sometimes appear, they get their philosophical lifeblood from the existential concerns with which philosophy begins.
Hear from one of our majors
Mary Grace Collins talks about being a philosophy major, being part of the philosophy department, and why she chose Lehigh.