Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


About the Department

At its best, Philosophy is a mode of engaging thoughtfully and critically with the grounding ideas, structures and motivations of human practices. Such thinking includes reflection on the relationship between different forms of knowledge (scientific, ethical, political, historical, cultural and aesthetic) and the material and social worlds, On the relationship between forms of knowledge and unconscious, affective, and socially produced aspects of agency, and on intertwining social, historical and geographical forms of power and human community.

For students already interested in philosophy, our program offers an opportunity to develop and expand their approaches to critical inquiry.  Through our involvement in numerous interdisciplinary programs and Paideia clusters, we also offer numerous opportunities for students without a background in philosophy to foster their capacities for critical reflection on the world we live in, the values and concepts we hold, and the ways in which we relate to and interact with other people and the structures that shape and define our world.  All are welcome in our classes!

Southwestern’s Philosophy courses develop a wide range of intellectual abilities, and offer a unique opportunity for students to develop their own modes of thoughtful, critical engagement with different domains of knowledge and practice. Our emphasis is on primary texts and a careful discussion of them, their ideas and their interrelation with aspects of personal and social experience..

Our curriculum focuses on cultivating philosophy as a self-reflective practice.  We offer a wide and varied range of Introductory courses, including courses which focus on Education, Ethics, Theories of Race, and Feminist Theory, as well as a rotating set of Introductory Topics that respond to evolving student and faculty interests.

Each semester we also offer a series of “Critical Histories” courses, involving close study of key texts from specific periods in the history of Western Philosophy, while actively putting those texts into conversation with contemporary theory and/or other theoretical traditions.  

Other courses to be taught regularly in coming semesters include: Philosophy and the Haitian Revolution, Philosophy of Religion, Media and Narrative, Philosophies of the Americas, The Embodied Self, Materialisms, Feminist Ethics, Psychoanalysis, Business as an Ethos, and Politics and Economics.  

Philosophy majors will find their immersion in critical thinking and analysis prepares them well for a range of fields beyond the classroom. Beyond the opportunity to pursue graduate studies in a number of fields, philosophy majors are well prepared to enter the range of career options available to liberal arts college graduates.