Single Honours Philosophy Graduate 2014, currently enrolled in the MA programme in Continental Philosophy at KULeuven
By seeking to answer the questions central to our existence, philosophy is a challenging and absorbing discipline. Having had skirmishes with philosophy - a little Hume here and a little Kant there - as part of my A-level studies, I knew I wanted to study the subject in depth long before applying to university. Philosophy stands above a multitude of other disciplines (e.g. history, mathematics, ethics, to name a few) and historically, has been the genesis of the diverging subjects found in the social sciences, such as sociology and psychology. As such, philosophy appealed to my general 'thirst for knowledge' and indeed, my love for rigorous argument. It is the discipline that underpins other disciplines, and for someone who always seeks to think 'outside the box', it was and remains a natural fit.
I applied to Trinity College hoping to expand and develop my own ideas, and learn from the greats of the past. Trinity has offered me all that and so much more: a wide-ranging programme, grounded in the central problems and history of philosophy. Trinity is at once both forward-looking and rooted in a rich scholarly tradition. Granted the free-range to explore any topic in philosophy, I flourished. And considering I had never been to Dublin before arriving at my first day of College, I felt immediately welcomed.
All the professors were helpful in relation to my queries and sympathetic to my worries. By my final year, I felt my professors were truly engaged with and supportive of what I wished to focus on and achieve through my thesis. The overall Trinity experience has encouraged me to continue with postgraduate studies in Continental Philosophy and - hopefully - an academic career path.
Single Honours Philosophy Graduate 2014, currently working in arts management and administration
As a Philosophy student, my subject was often criticised for not being immediately 'relevant' or 'useful'. However, I was drawn to philosophy precisely because it is useful and relevant - its subject matter underlies and shapes the way we think about the world. Alain de Botton articulates this well, 'In ancient Greece or Rome, philosophers were seen as natural authorities on the most pressing questions. However, since then, the idea of finding wisdom from philosophy has come to seem bizarre'.
Having studied philosophy for four years, I have developed many core skills such as the ability to reason logically, maintain clarity whilst communicating, analyse dense material rigorously, all whilst addressing a fascinating subject matter. Philosophy gives you the opportunity to apply these skills to some of the most important questions in human history: questions about religion, morality, science, art, the possibility and limits of knowledge, the nature of being and existence, just to name a few.
Philosophy is a subject where the lectures are dynamic and students are regularly encouraged to direct classroom debate. I was also grateful for the diversity of students who studied with me on the course. Since philosophy involves a lot of close critical thinking and logical argument applied to a plethora of questions about the world, it will accordingly draw a fascinating variety of people, all of whom will bring different insights and perspectives to the classroom.
After graduating from a Philosophy course, your will find that there is a wide spectrum of jobs open to you. There are fundamental ways in which philosophical thinking prepares you for the working world, a few of which I have mentioned. More specifically though, the analytic skills that philosophy develops are highly sought after by the financial and business worlds, the civil service and the ever-growing technology sector. Philosophy also attracts lovers of the creative arts, since both philosophy and art benefit from open-mindedness, imagination and clear vision about what it is that they want to communicate. Encouragingly, there is always a portion of any philosophy class who continue on to postgraduate studies in philosophy and other related disciplines.
Single Honours Philosophy Graduate 2013, currently enrolled in the PhD programme in Philosophy at MIT
Why should you study philosophy? One good reason is that it is fascinating. Philosophers are occupied with a very diverse range of questions about what kinds of things there are, about what makes something morally good or bad, about knowledge, and mind, language and more. Thus in doing philosophy you get the opportunity to grapple with deep questions concerning many different things. Another good reason is that it sharpens your thinking. Doing philosophy involves giving rigorous arguments for various conclusions and so doing philosophy well involves being able to recognise and make subtle distinctions, spot where arguments go wrong and make good arguments yourself. I can think of hardly any walk of life where being good at such things isn't useful.
Why should you study philosophy at Trinity? One reason is the breadth of the course. During my time at Trinity I took classes on almost all of the main traditions of philosophy and was introduced to most of the core problems in philosophy. In fact, this is accomplished within the first two years of the degree through the History of Philosophy and Central Problems in Philosophy modules, giving you the chance in your final two years to study particular areas that may interest you in more depth.
Another good reason is the quality of the education you get. The professors in Trinity are experts in their fields and their courses, along with the accompanying tutorials, give you all the training you need to understand philosophy and to begin to think like a philosopher yourself. My time at Trinity, for instance, equipped me well to go on to do graduate study in philosophy. But one needn't want to become a philosopher in order for it to be beneficial to be able to think like a philosopher: every profession requires some degree of analytical skill and problem solving ability, and learning to think like a philosopher is one way of attaining those skills; and, in particular, studying philosophy at Trinity is a good way of attaining those skills.
Single Honours Philosophy Graduate 2012
I became interested in Philosophy because it appeared to be the subject which asked the most important and interesting questions. What makes something meaningful? Why should we be moral? Are there limits to what we can think?
A great thing about the course in Trinity is the depth with which the History of Philosophy is studied. Everyone in the Department has his or her own expertise in various areas, and as a student you see the same questions approached in different ways by different people; from this you get a much better understanding of what you were asking in the first place. In the third and fourth year you get to focus on the areas that most interest you, and the lectures give way to more intimate seminars with more discussion and debate. In this context you may find yourself defending views you didn't know you had. To test your ideas, I'd recommend giving a paper at a meeting of the Metaphysical Society, the student-run 'philosophy club' where guests and student speakers present what they are working on and receive feedback.
If you are concerned about the 'career advantages' of studying Philosophy, it trains you to see complex issues clearly, to analyse arguments thoroughly, identifying assumptions and tracing logical dependencies, and to present your conclusions in a carefully reasoned manner. These are all important skills which, I am told, employers care a good deal about. More importantly, it is exciting, profound and your life will be richer for it.
Single Honours Philosophy Graduate 2003, currently working in the Global Relations Office, Trinity College Dublin
I chose to study Single Honours Philosophy because I wanted to pursue an intellectually stimulating discipline that, while deep, would also provide breadth by touching on many areas of fundamental importance to human existence. Philosophy proved to be the perfect fit, with the programme touching on topics as diverse as human history, the nature of belief and understanding, religion, ethics, political science, aesthetics and the nature of being.
Having never had the opportunity to study philosophy in school, I entered the programme with little prior experience and an open mind. From the very beginning, I loved it! I found myself immersed in a new, exciting, intellectual world where my previous unquestioned beliefs and all the things that I thought I knew were questioned on a daily basis.
Trinity College has a great philosophical heritage, having produced numerous thinkers who have impacted philosophy in both Ireland and abroad, including George Berkeley and Edmond Burke. I found it a great place to study philosophy and thoroughly enjoyed my four years there. As a Single Honours student, my class was small, which meant that even in the first year I could regularly experience small group teaching. This was the perfect atmosphere to actively grapple with such questions as the meaning of life, the value of art, or the nature of truth and knowledge.
Despite longstanding jokes to the contrary, career opportunities for philosophy graduates are vast. I've found that my studies in philosophy have remained very relevant after graduation. As a subject that is primarily concerned with developing your ability to think, philosophy does not simply teach you facts with little use beyond your final examination. Instead, philosophy provides you with the tools necessary to critically engage with any subject, to analyse arguments and to communicate your thoughts clearly and cogently. All of these are skills that I have found to be fundamentally valuable, not only in my professional life, but also in my day-to-day interactions.