Introducing Philosophy

Jerome Wilcox, Dr. Barbara Stock, and William Butler enjoying homemade graduation cakes at celebration for graduates in May, 2013

Jerome Wilcox, Dr. Barbara Stock and William Butler

You woke up this morning, had breakfast, went to class, then logged onto a computer and are now viewing this website... Or maybe not. Maybe you haven't woken up at all. Maybe you dreamed your whole day. In fact, maybe you dreamed your whole life. Worse, maybe you are stuck in a situation like The Matrix, where a supercomputer controls all your experiences, making it seem like you are walking around doing things, when really you are not. Sound crazy? It's not as easy as you might think to prove the above suggestions wrong. If you enjoy playing around with "maybes" like this, you might like studying philosophy.

Philosophers also consider somewhat more down-to-earth questions relating to human life: Does life have any meaning? What makes some actions right and others wrong, or is it just a matter of opinion? Are some medical advances, such as genetic engineering, immoral? What would a truly just society be like? Are humans the only beings that have rights?

Philosophy Program
Mission Statement
Gallaudet University
Adopted September 2007

In short, our mission is to teach people how to think - about the most fundamental questions of human life, and about their own lives. To this end, the Philosophy Program of Gallaudet University holds the following goals:

  1. To offer a quality undergraduate major and minor in philosophy that provide training in all the major areas of philosophy, including relevant arguments, ideas, and philosophical methods.
  2. To offer a quality minor in religion that familiarizes students with religious traditions, scriptures, practices and intellectual influences from a variety of theoretical perspectives.
  3. To offer courses in philosophy that help students achieve Gallaudet Undergraduate Learning Outcomes 1, 2, and 5. While introducing core issues in philosophy, these courses are designed to: (1) increase students' literacy and communication skills by having them read challenging texts and express their ideas in ASL and English (2) improve students' critical thinking and logical analysis skills, and (3) provide instruction in ethical theories and decision-making.
  4. To offer courses in religion that help students achieve Gallaudet Undergraduate Learning Outcomes 3 and 4. These courses (1) introduce students to both major and minor religious traditions, (2) introduce students to core issues in the study of religion, (3) introduce students to theoretical frameworks for understanding religious belief and practice, (4) provide opportunities for interreligious dialogue in English and ASL that encourage respect for beliefs other than one's own, (5) encourage understanding of how the issues of race, ethnicity, and gender have an impact on religious teachings and practice, and (6) emphasize the influence of religion historically and in our world today.
  5. To collaborate with interdisciplinary programs and course clusters on campus such as the Honors Program, First Year Experience, Women's Studies program, and General Studies Interdisciplinary Learning courses. The Progam believes that it is in a position to provide significant contributions to these programs because philosophy and religion have had such a long and rich history of confronting the fundamental issues central to human existence and experience.
  6. To cultivate an attitude of Socratic humility. This attitude acknowledges that the one thing a person can know is what that person does not know. In the pursuit of knowledge and truth, a person ought to demonstrate both sensitivity to the views of others and critical inquiry. Another way of expressing this is that the person with Socratic humility understands that anything can be questioned, even this mission statement.
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