Why study Philosophy?
The best way to find out what philosophy is, and whether it's something you find interesting, is to investigate it for yourself.
Read a book
- Stephen Law, The Philosophy Gym
- Nigel Warburton, Philosophy: The Basics
- Thomas Nagel, What Does it All Mean?
- Oxford University Press’s Very Short Introductions… series, for example our very own Tim Bayne’s book 'Thought: A Very Short Introduction' on the nature of thought
- Clare Saunders et al, Doing Philosophy. This aims to guide students of philosophy through their university studies, including advice on planning and writing essays, taking notes, reading, etc.
- You can access key content from Cambridge University Press’s journal 'Think' free of charge for a limited period. Just visit the registration page and enter the trial code PHILOSOPHY when prompted.
Read a blog post
The blog post 'Philosophy: often misunderstood' by one of our PhD students Andy Routledge gives you a very short guide to what philosophy is all about.
Take a look at classic philosophy texts
- Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (1912).
- René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy.
- If you find the slightly old-fashioned language a little tricky, you could try Jonathan Bennett's rewrite on his 'Early Modern Texts' website.
Listen to a podcast
Philosophy Bites is a series of podcasts where philosophers are interviewed about a huge range of philosophical topics.
Play a game!
The Philosopher's Magazine (TPM) has a lot of philosophy games and interactive activities, addressing such questions as whether you would eat your cat, whether your beliefs about God are consistent, and whether murder is sometimes morally justified, as well as activities on topics such as personal identity, logic, what makes something a work of art, and much more.
Why study philosophy at university?
Well, if you've spent some time studying it at school, or have checked out some of the resources above, you should already know the main reason to study philosophy at university.
It's interesting, challenging and intellectually stimulating, and it tries to answer questions that other subjects just can't reach. What's really important about studying philosophy at university level, though, is that you get to think about those questions for yourself.
We're not just interested in you learning what the main views and arguments are that other philosophers have come up with; we want you to figure out what you think the right view is, and why. So you'll spend a lot of time trying to formulate arguments, thinking up objections to other people's arguments, identifying flaws in existing views and trying to fix them, and so on.
That's part of the reason why philosophy at university level is so interesting and challenging. You get to do it for yourself, and not just learn about it.
Philosophy graduates also do really well in a range of careers. Follow the careers and employability link below to find out more.
Find out more
- Find out about what you can do with a philosophy degree.
- Browse a useful site aimed at prospective undergraduates from the American Philosophical Association.