Literally defined as the "love of wisdom," Philosophy has come to encompass any intellectual pursuit that investigates the foundations of human thinking and reality. In essence, one can say it is "thinking about thinking." Traditionally this involves critical and reflective thought about such things as: the nature of knowledge and justification of belief (epistemology); the nature of reality and what can be said truly to exist (metaphysics); the conduct of life and what makes one moral (ethics); and the underlying structure of reasoning and language (logic).
While these are the customary branches of philosophy, they are by no means the only ones. Today we see such fascinating offshoots as the philosophy of science, which investigates the aims and methodologies of scientific theories and progress, aesthetics, asking questions about art and beauty, and philosophy of literature, which examines the philosophical content of novels, plays and poetry to the great ideas that have animated the great minds of human history. But it is not simply the history of philosophy that we want to teach them. We want to show them that a development of philosophical understanding can occur and we want to guide them toward a discovery of the philosophical understanding. In short, we want to show them how far the human mind has come in understanding God, nature, and the human person.
The Department also recognizes the Catholic and Vincentian character of the University. We respect the teachings of the Catholic Church and we seek to help Catholic students, and others who are interested, understand the philosophical foundations of the Church's theological reflections upon itself and the world. We also respect the Vincentian mission of service to the poor and the promotion of global harmony and economic development. In these matters we are guided by a deep and abiding respect for the dignity of the students we seek to educate. Our desire is to provide them with an unprejudiced understanding of the way things are, so that they might freely choose their own path. It is our hope that when they leave us they will have the ability to recognize what is wrong with the world and possess the character, courage and skills necessary to change it for the better.