5 Insider Tips for Thriving (& Surviving) in Philosophy Class

phi·los·o·phy
fəˈläsəfē/
noun
  1. the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.
    • a particular system of philosophical thought. plural noun: philosophies
    • the study of the theoretical basis of a particular branch of knowledge or experience.

That word had been tossed and turned in my vocabulary, but I had never intentionally allowed it actually to run its course. That was, until PHL 118L (Moral Problems) at 8:00 am every Tuesday and Thursday with Gary Fuller the Fall semester of my sophomore year at Central Michigan University. Luckily I had my LAS cohort to assist in keeping me (semi) sane. Simultaneously they also encouraged and challenged me to push beyond the boundaries and depths of my own complex mind.

A fistful of the topics that we discussed include:
Morality & Moral Reasoning, Utilitarianism, Justice & Rights/fairness, Morality vs. Religion (connections & differences), Hooking Up (pros and cons), Abortion, Capital Punishment, Euthanasia (active and passive), the Death Penalty, Affirmative Action, Sexuality, War & Terrorism, and Economic Justice.


 

I’m not sure how many people made it through that entire list, or how many are still reading, but for the brave enthusiasts that are still with me – kudos to you, and let’s keep pressing on.

Frankly, to give a breakdown of each topic would be tedious on my part and would ruin the fun for those who haven’t yet taken the course. Rather, I’m going to share:
5 Insider Tips for Thriving (& Surviving) in Philosophy Class:

1.You don’t have to know everything at any given moment of your life (including this class). You do, however, have to be open to learning new things and willing to gain insight and more knowledge about topics that may make your skin crawl.

2.You have the right to change your mind. You may have had an opinion or perspective or many on a certain subject before the course; however, this course may also change that, and that is okay. You don’t have to remain the same person or flow with the same stream of thought, and you shouldn’t be afraid to give the class the opportunity to change you.

3.Ask questions. Ask lots of questions. The topics under the umbrella of philosophy are dense and weighted in content. As you emerge yourself in the course, you will begin to take a stance and form a foundation on a standpoint that you are rightfully entitled to. In the process of this course, you will learn more about yourself, but only if you allow yourself to learn. Ask questions to your professor, ask questions to your fellow classmates, ask questions to yourself. [ Note: you may not get an answer you think you should hear or always reach a concrete conclusion – continue to 4 please  ]

4.Don’t be too hard on yourself & don’t take it personally. We are all human, and because of that others will undeniably have a different opinion than yourself. Learn to be okay with that. They will defend and explain themselves rightfully, but this is not an attack on you, your character, or the values that you stand for. We’re all entitled to our own opinions and being able to share those confidentially. Don’t take this course too personally.

5.Have fun and be willing to laugh!If you take this class too seriously it has the potential to be miserable. Some days (most days) this course will give you headaches, but remember that a good laugh is a great cure. You will disagree with your classmates, but don’t let this hinder the relationships among each other outside the classroom.

Good luck friends! May you survive (and thrive) in Philosophy class.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 10.42.55 AM
My strange, crazy and intellectual group’s final presentation was about deciphering the “terror” in terrorism. We wore all black. We kicked butt and received an A!
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