Philosophy for Life
Bringing philosophy down to earth
Think philosophy is too abstract, or that it has nothing to do with you? Well, consider this — in a very real way, we do philosophy every day, says Assistant Professor of Philosophy Jennifer Dobe.
Dobe teaches Philosophy for Life (PHI 121) and says that we, as humans, use philosophy in our daily lives but rarely think about it. In PHI 121, an introductory course, you will explore what that means. You will discover and ask the “big questions” and learn how to answer them yourself.
As humans, we wonder about so many things: How should I live? What is most important to me? What virtues do I stand for? PHI 121 helps you begin to answer those questions by bringing philosophy down to earth and allowing you to study it in a more human, less esoteric way. You will examine the work of history’s most prominent thinkers, historical and modern, and develop an understanding of their opinions and reasoning. You will also learn to prioritize those ideas, answering the questions and their relevance in your life.
Studying philosophy will help you define who you are as a person and how you think about your career moving forward. You will develop invaluable critical thinking and concentration skills transferrable to many other fields and professions. Dobe says that the Buddha (a great thinker in his own right) taught that it’s crucial to find the “right livelihood” — a meaningful career in which our work positively affects our minds and hearts.
What's Important to You?
This innovative course asks the critical question, “What’s important to you?” The readings and discussions are centered around you, the student, investigating the deep thinkers and making their work relevant to your life. You will study philosophers ranging from the ancient Greeks to the modern truth-seekers. You will participate in various assignments, each connecting philosophy to your life. You will engage in new practices and active ways to create new habits.
Dobe explains that PHI 121 makes use of the works of Sara Ahmed, a feminist theorist. Ahmed writes not only about discovering how you want to think, but also about being a part of communities, friendships, the arts, and aesthetics, as well as the virtues you want to pursue yourself.
Philosophy and Modern Life
PHI 121 is a multidisciplinary course that ties philosophy to political theory, political science, and more. As part of your Grinnell liberal arts education, you will be introduced to topics spanning many majors and concentrations and discover how philosophy connects with Grinnell’s mission to foster better people. PHI 121 helps students see and be curious about feminism, critical race theory, ethical theory, and much more, Dobe says.
Philosophy is constantly evolving. And when you gain a broader knowledge base of the subject, you can enter the stream of conversation with awareness and confidence in who you are and what you stand for.