(photo courtesy of John P. Bastin)
What is the purpose of our existence? How do we discover the principles which guide, or which ought to guide, our actions? Can we prove whether there is a God? Philosophy is the reasoned study of questions like these - fundamental, important questions. The study of philosophy introduces the student to the main currents of intellectual history and provides a basis for a critical understanding of his or her own ideas. Philosophy is central to a sound liberal arts education.
StFX offers both advanced major and honours programs for those who wish to study philosophy in depth; and major and honours students aspiring to further study have been accepted at some of the best postgraduate institutions in the world. At the same time, students are encouraged to take one or more courses in philosophy to complement their concentrations in other disciplines. Systematic courses are offered in all the main areas of the discipline and the history of philosophy is studied intensively.
The Department of Philosophy maintains close contact with its students and the University's Philosophy Club is very active. Organized and run by students, its objectives are to foster an interest in philosophy as a way of life, following Socrates' admonition that "the unexamined life is not worth living"; to provide tutoring to anyone enrolled in philosophy courses who desires it; and to provide a nurturing atmosphere for discussion. Numerous informal gatherings also enable students to meet and talk with guest lecturers and department staff.
In the latest external review of the teaching and research in Philosophy at StFX, the reviewers stated that "The [StFX] Philosophy Department is almost certainly the best small department in the country."