Message from the Chair
Welcome to the Philosophy department at Trinity Western University. Philosophy is an intriguing field of study, in part because it has a history that extends more than 2500 years, and also because it is the discipline from which virtually all of the specialized sciences found in modern life originally derived. Physics was one of its first "children" about 500 years ago, as speculation and conjecture about the forces in and the stuff of the universe gradually led to exact measurement using the tools of mathematics. Psychology is one of its recent "children," and as late as 1900 most universities in the Western world did not have separate departments of psychology, but studied psychology in departments of Philosophy.
The core subjects of Philosophy ask questions that are central to living well, which cannot be answered by any natural or social science. These questions include:
• Can anything be known for certain?
• Is one opinion about the ultimate stuff of the universe as good as another?
• Do Western views of "the good life" mesh with viewpoints arising from other civilizations?
• What is the best or most just political regime, if any?
• Are all moral standards of right and wrong culturally relative or are some moral standards objective?
• Does God exist? Is belief in God rational?
• Do people somehow survive their own deaths, that is, bodily death?
• Are standards for rationality, for example, rules for valid arguments, universal?
• Is beauty merely in the eye of the beholder, or do objective standards exist for aesthetic evaluations?
No science can answer these questions, but each person will confront most of them in life - perhaps even some of them afterward!
The Philosophy Department at Trinity Western University studies the historic issues of Philosophy from various approaches, including those of analytic philosophy, continental thought, phenomenology, existentialism, Thomism, and feminism. Its faculty also reflect Christian perspectives on philosophical questions, because they embrace the belief that this faith includes important truths about the origin of the universe and the place of human beings within it.
Students who have graduated with a major have gone on to graduate studies in Philosophy in various universities of Canada, the US, and Great Britain. Some of its graduates have also gone on in law, public service, teaching, Christian ministry, and work with relief agencies. A study published in The Albertan late in the 1990s even found that the degree most often taken by successful Canadian CEOs was Philosophy. Its purpose, however, is decidedly not to encourage students to live a life of ease or to pursue wealth and power, but to engage the questions concerning the standards by which life itself is measured. The question to ask is not, "What can you do with a Philosophy degree?" but "What can't you do with it."