Psychology and Philosophy
Degrees available in Psychology & Philosophy
Psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and the mental, emotional, and physical processes associated with behavior. It is a science, an academic discipline, and a profession. As scientists, psychologists are concerned with the careful and systematic observation of behavior, as well as the collection, analysis, and interpretation of empirical data. As academicians, psychologists deal with theoretical concepts and interpretations, and ethical controversies. As professionals, psychologists are dedicated to improving the quality of life, enhancing personal and organizational effectiveness, and preserving the dignity of their fellow humans.
Students drawn to psychology must be willing to extend the boundaries of their knowledge about human behavior, develop mature and ethical values, learn to distinguish between valuable and trivial information, and acquire the broad prespective necessary to influence and shape the world around them. They gain from their studies a solid knowledge of psychological terms, concepts, theories, methods, and issues. They develop the ability to gather and synthesize information from a variety of sources, inside and outside the classroom, and they learn more about the human condition in the process.
Philosophy is not a body of knowledge, like chemistry, say, but an activity. It is the activity of critical thinking about problems that we cannot solve through experimental means. Historically, philosophy is the oldest attempt to use reason to find the truth. The first universities were founded by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. The "Ph" in "PhD" stands for philosophy.
Whenever a particular method has been found for discovering truths of a certain kind, a new discipline has been identified and broken off from the mother discipline. Biology, physics, and (much more recently) psychology all started in this way. But plenty of issues remain for philosophers to address. Many of these are ethical: Is it ever right to lie? Does the end justify the means? Is anything absolutely wrong? Others are religious: Is it rational to believe in God or miracles or life after death? What can we know, or reasonably believe, about God? Others are about truth, or knowledge, or thought, or the mind, or language.
While there are few careers in philosophy itself, the critical thinking skills that philosophy develops are highly transferable, and the study of philosophy is one of the best possible preparations for law school. It also provides excellent training in thinking outside the box, which is one of the reasons why Albert Einstein believed that scientists should learn to be philosophers.
The Department of Psychology and Philosophy offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in psychology, and minors in leadership studies, philosophy, and psychology.