Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Pitch for the Value of MTSU's Philosophy Program

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 5:13 AM

click to enlarge ancient-philosopher.jpg
As you may have heard, budget cuts are forcing MTSU to slash programs. Naturally, those cuts have targeted the seemingly impractical side of higher ed (read: stuff that doesn't have an immediate and tangible payoff). So we turn the mic to student Tiffany Blackburn, who argues the import of a liberal arts education, and the value of retaining MTSU's philosophy program: Given the current dismal state of our economy, MTSU has proposed a money saving scheme that involves a considerable downsizing of the academic programs that it offers. As I perused the extensive list of prospectively doomed majors, I was dumfounded (albeit glumly unsurprised) to discover that philosophy had made the cut (pun intended). As an English major and philosophy minor, and having studied (in a philosophy class) the origin and history of Academia, I feel that the proposed elimination of philosophy as a potential major is appalling and bitterly ironic. The ancient Greeks invented a number of nifty concepts like geometry, atomism, and democracy and they also created the academy in which these concepts were discussed and studied at length in the interest of producing thoughtful, clever citizens. In the Academy, a particular emphasis was placed on the study of philosophy (an ancient word meaning "love of wisdom") as it was held to the highest esteem in their culture. Philosophy is the foundation on which rests every liberal art and every science, and the "powers that be," who presumably want colleges to graduate thoughtful, clever and productive members of society propose cutting this from the university program of possible majors?!?! I once asked the chair of the philosophy department, Dr. Ron Bombardi, about the importance of studying philosophy as opposed to other disciplines, and his response was one that I'll never forget. He said [of philosophy majors] that, "you can do anything anyone else can do. Only you can do it better." In closing, I'll quote one of my favorite writers, Ambrose Bierce, in his cynical outlook of the direction of which our society is headed if changes aren't made (namely, not eliminating philosophy as a possible major). As defined in "The Devil's Dictionary" Academe, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught.

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