Philosophy, BA

The undergraduate major in philosophy begins in the Core Curriculum, and then traces the quest for wisdom from ancient Greece to the present. It culminates in advanced courses on Ethics and Philosophy of God. Along the way, students cultivate the essential skills of professional life: close reading, reasoned conversation, and clear, precise writing and public speaking.

“Are you not ashamed of your eagerness to possess as much wealth, reputation, and honors as possible, while you do not care for nor give thought to wisdom and truth and the best possible state of your soul?”

Plato

So Socrates addressed his contemporaries, and so philosophy addresses us today, inviting us to care for wisdom, truth and virtue above all else.

In the University of Dallas Philosophy Department, we take this Socratic summons seriously. In doing so, we also give our students the best possible foundation for success in a wide variety of professions. After all, the love of wisdom and professional excellence have something crucial in common: they require a well-trained mind.

Reflecting on the life and conversations of Socrates, Aristotle discerned three arenas within which the pursuit of wisdom unfolds: the universe as a whole, with its first principles and causes; the life of human beings in community, and the productive work by which each of us serves that life.

First principles

Rome campus

More than three hundred years before Christ, Aristotle affirmed that the ultimate task of the philosopher is to ascend from the changing material world to its unchanging, invisible causes. This was not to turn away from the world, but to understand the world as a whole by discovering traces of the divine in all that exists.

To cast one’s mind toward God is the chief task of all who aspire to wisdom. We undertake this task in our third core course, Philosophy of Being, and in our senior-level course on Philosophy of God.

A life well-lived

Graduates

In the Republic, Plato presents the philosopher as a captain guiding a ship through stormy seas, steering with one eye on eternal truth and the other on everyday life. These two realities, the divine and the human, come together when we realize that our integrity is more important than our external accomplishments or possessions.

We study human beings and their integrity in our first two core courses, Philosophy and the Ethical Life and The Human Person, and in our senior-level course on Ethics.

Professional success

Dr. Mirus teaching

“A cultivated intellect,” writes St. John Henry Newman, “brings with it a power and a grace to every work and occupation which it undertakes.” Similarly, Aristotle argues that the philosopher’s ability to give reasons and discern causes must often take a firm practical turn.

The ability to grasp and articulate principles informs the practical vision of the educated person. This ability is the difference between having only the 5,000-foot view of a task or problem and having the 30,000-foot view as well. Perhaps that’s why, in terms of mid-career earnings, philosophy majors outpace business majors nationwide.

 

The Philosophy Major at a Glance

Philosophy and the Ethical Life; The Human Person; Philosophy of Being
Reading the great philosophers with peers from other majors, we enter an exciting conversation that blends the perspectives of philosophy, literature, politics, theology, natural science, and more.

From Ancient to Medieval Philosophy; From Medieval to Modern Philosophy; From Modern to Postmodern Philosophy
In the junior year, we begin a deeper study of what the great philosophers have said. Through dialogue with these thinkers, aspects of the truth shine forth. 

Logic
Through logic we learn to assess the arguments of others, and to craft precise and compelling arguments ourselves.

Contemporary Philosophical Approaches; Junior Seminar; Senior Seminar; Senior Thesis
In seminar discussions and individual tutorials, we learn the arts of careful reading, respectful conversation, and attractive, effective expression in writing and speech. This training culminates in the Senior Thesis and the Senior Conference in Philosophy, in which students present their most mature philosophical work.

At least one upper-level elective
Popular choices include Aesthetics, Bioethics, Philosophy of Language, and Thought of John Paul II. The major also leaves plenty of room for electives in other subjects.