Philosophy is the search for well-reasoned answers to important, non-empirical questions.
Philosophers are interested in questions like the following: Do we know anything? If so, what do we know? Are some actions morally wrong? If so, which ones? What is a virtue? What kinds of things exist? Is there a God? If so, what is he like? Do we have souls? Will we survive death? What makes an argument a good one? What is art? For a more detailed introduction to the field of philosophy, see the American Philosophical Association's "Philosophy: A Brief Guide for Undergraduates."
Why study philosophy? There are many answers, but most are variations on one of the following themes:
Philosophy is excellent preparation for advanced learning.
A careful study of philosophy serves as excellent preparation for graduate school or law school. Philosophy majors outperform almost every other major on mean GRE scores, even performing better on the verbal section than English majors. Philosophy majors have the highest LSAT scores of any major (according to the National Statistics Report for 88-90 to 93-94, a publication of the Law School Admission Council). Fort Lewis College Philosophy graduates have earned advanced degrees in philosophy, medicine, law, theology, education, and many other professions.
"Philosophy Rocks the Graduate Record Exam!"Guide to the Graduate Record Examination
"Why Not Study Something Practical, Like Philosophy?" National Forum
Philosophy is excellent preparation for a career.
A degree in philosophy prepares students for a wide range of careers. To prepare for a career in the ever-changing environment of a global economy, college graduates need to be adequately prepared to adjust. Shift happens. The skills acquired in critical thinking, the formulation and evaluation of arguments, interpretation and analysis of texts, clarity of expression in speech and writing serve as a foundation for success in all fields even as they continue to evolve.
Philosophy major's mid-career pay is higher than those majoring in Business, Biology, Pscyhology, English, Sociology, Journalism, Anthropology, Art, etc. (from Payscale.com)
"Working Your Degree," CNN Money
"A Non-Academic Career?" American Philosophical Association
"Think On," The Times
"Philosophers Find the Degree Pays off in Work and Life," New York Times
Philosophy is excellent preparation for life.
Studying philosophy is one of the very best ways to come to appreciate and answer the questions that make life worth living. What we believe about the world, where we place our priorities, and how we treat other people are of primary importance in any life worth living.
"In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined," New York Times