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Philosophy (Raphael School of Athens)


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School of Humanities and Sciences

Philosophy concerns itself with fundamental problems and examines the efforts of past thinkers to understand the world and people's experience of it.

What You'll Study

Philosophy concerns itself with fundamental problems. Some are abstract and deal with the nature of truth, justice, value, and knowledge; others are more concrete, and their study may help guide conduct or enhance understanding of other subjects. Philosophy also examines the efforts of past thinkers to understand the world and people's experience of it.

Although it may appear to be an assortment of different disciplines, there are features common to all philosophical inquiry. These include an emphasis on methods of reasoning and the way in which judgments are formed, on criticizing and organizing beliefs, and on the nature and role of fundamental concepts. Students of almost any discipline can find something in philosophy which is relevant to their own specialties. In the sciences, it provides a framework within which the foundations and scope of a scientific theory can be studied, and it may even suggest directions for future development.

Since philosophical ideas have had an important influence on human endeavors of all kinds, including artistic, political, and economic, students of the humanities and social sciences should find their understanding deepened by acquaintance with philosophy. The mission of the undergraduate program in Philosophy is to train students to think clearly and critically about the deepest and broadest questions concerning being, knowledge, and value, as well as their connections to the full range of human activities and interests.

The Philosophy major presents students with paradigms and perspectives of past thinkers and introduces students to a variety of methods of reasoning and judgment formation. Courses in the major equip students with core skills involved in critical reading, analytical thinking, sound argumentation, and the clear, well-organized expression of ideas. Philosophy is an excellent major for those planning a career in law, medicine, business, or the non-profit sector. It provides analytical skills and a breadth of perspective helpful to those called upon to make decisions about their own conduct and the welfare of others. Philosophy majors who have carefully planned their undergraduate program have an excellent record of admission to professional and graduate schools.

Degrees Offered

  • BA
  • Joint Major/BAS
  • Minor
  • Honors
  • Coterm

More Information

Learn more about Philosophy in the Stanford Bulletin

Exploratory Courses


Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL 100

The History of Ancient Greek Philosophy (CLASSICS 40)

PHIL 102

Modern Philosophy, Descartes to Kant


Humanities Core: Great Books, Big Ideas -- Europe, Modern (FRENCH 13, HISTORY 239C, HUMCORE 13)

PHIL 171



Introduction to Moral Philosophy (ETHICSOC 20)


Ethics in a Human Life (ETHICSOC 174, HUMBIO 174A)


Philosophy and Literature (CLASSICS 42, COMPLIT 181, ENGLISH 81, FRENCH 181, GERMAN 181, ILAC 181, ITALIAN 181, SLAVIC 181)