• Philosophy
    Program graduates value the critical thinking skills they learned at MTSU
  • Philosophy
    Philosophy major Erin Meaker is a June Anderson Foundation scholarship recipient
  • Philosophy
    This class on Marx and Marxism met in the sunshine
  • Philosophy
    Philosophy majors develop valuable logic and communication skills

Philosophy

"Philosophy" means love of wisdom in Greek. The practice of philosophy begins, as Aristotle said, with a sense of wonder. From simple questions children ask—"Why?", "What is God like?", "Does the universe come to an end?" —to complex queries such as the nature of virtue, the meaning of existence, the nature of human knowledge, the nature of reality, the nature of God, etc. Programs are offered in philosophy and religious studies.

Lyceum covers topics from Jesus to fashion

MTSU's Philosophy Department sponsors an annual lecture series, the Applied Philosophy Lyceum, conceived with Aristotle's Lyceum in mind. The Lyceum has covered topics ranging from issues in environmental ethics to theories of love and friendship. In its 20-year history, the series has brought such distinguished speakers as Arthur Danto, Lewis Gordon, Joel Kovel, Helen Longino, and Bart Ehrman to MTSU. Recent topics included "Misquoting Jesus," "What's a Black Artist?," and "Dressing Down Dressing Up: The Philosophic Fear of Fashion."

Learning launched 'commitment to social justice'

Dr. Debra Jackson (B.A. Philosophy, 1996), associate professor, California State University-Bakersfield, says MTSU's Philosophy, Women Studies, and Honors programs provided her “with a rich, engaging educational experience." She has published essays on identity politics and gaming, sexual violence discourse, and biotechnology; a critical thinking textbook; and a paper on witnessing trauma that has been accepted for a book. "My years at MTSU were among the best of my life. They formed my passion for learning and my commitment to social justice," says Jackson, who participated in the Women and Power Conference and Applied Philosophy Lyceum.

Philosophy majors can use their logic, argumentation, and communication skills for a number of professions. Those can range from creating software and developing computer language, to pursuing legal and mediation careers, to helping shape policy for non-profit and governmental organizations. Examples of professions include

  • Curator/archivist/arts management
  • Editor/publisher
  • Executive/management
  • Lawyer
  • Mediator
  • Non-profit policy maker
  • Novelist/non-fiction writer/poet
  • Philosophical counselor
  • Software creator/systems engineer
  • Teacher/professor
  • Technical writer

Employers of MTSU alumni include

  • Americorps
  • Around America
  • BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.)
  • California State University, Bakersfield
  • Community Health Systems
  • Eastern Kentucky University
  • Federal Government
  • Florida State University
  • Freelance organizer and videographer
  • HCA (Hospital Corporation of America)
  • Old Dominion Freight Line
  • Parallon HCA
  • SunTrust Bank
  • Tennessee Center for Child Welfare
  • Tennessee State Government
  • Tufts University
  • University of Central Oklahoma
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Toledo

Programs in the department lead to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree with a major in Philosophy.

Minors are offered in Philosophy and Religious Studies. The department also contributes to 17 academic minors.

Philosophy, B.A.

Department of Philosophy 
615-898-2907
Ron Bombardi, program coordinator
Ron.Bombardi@mtsu.edu

The major in Philosophy consists of 30 semester hours of philosophy courses including PHIL 2110, PHIL 4010, and PHIL 4020.

All students pursuing a major within this department must complete the General Education requirements. A foreign language component and one minor are required. (See Bachelor of Arts Degree for more information.)

Following is a suggested pattern of study; however, consultation with the assigned advisor is necessary before each registration.

Curriculum: Philosophy, B.A.

Curricular listings include General Education requirements in Communication, History, Humanities and/or Fine Arts, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Social/Behavioral Sciences categories.

Freshman

  • ENGL 1010 - Expository Writing  3 credit hours  (Comm)

    ENGL 1010 - Expository Writing

    3 credit hours

    The first General Education English course. Emphasis on learning to adapt composing processes to a variety of expository and analytic writing assignments. Minimum grade of C- required for credit.

  • ENGL 1020 - Research and Argumentative Writing

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: ENGL 1010. The second General Education English course. Emphasis on analytic and argumentative writing and on locating, organizing, and using library resource materials in the writing. Minimum grade of C- required for credit.

  • COMM 2200 - Fundamentals of Communication

    3 credit hours

    Principles and processes of effective public oral communication including researching, critical thinking, organizing, presenting, listening, and using appropriate language. Emphasis on informative, persuasive, special occasion, and extemporaneous (impromptu) speaking. Counts as part of the General Education Communication requirement.

  • PHIL 1030 - Introduction to Philosophy  3 credit hours  (Hum/FA)

    PHIL 1030 - Introduction to Philosophy

    3 credit hours

    Basic philosophical problems suggested by everyday experience integrated into a coherent philosophy of life through comparison with solutions offered by prominent philosophers.

Subtotal: 32 Hours

Sophomore

  • ENGL 2020 - Themes in Literature and Culture  3 credit hours  (Hum/FA) OR

    ENGL 2020 - Themes in Literature and Culture

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisites: ENGL 1010 and ENGL 1020. Traces a specific theme or idea through a number of literary texts that reflect different historical and cultural contexts. Subject will vary.

  • ENGL 2030 - The Experience of Literature  3 credit hours  (Hum/FA) OR

    ENGL 2030 - The Experience of Literature

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisites: ENGL 1010 and ENGL 1020. The reading of a variety of literary types which illuminate themes and experiences common to human existence.

  • HUM 2610 - Foreign Literature in Translation

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisites: ENGL 1010 and ENGL 1020. Representative works of French, German, and Hispanic authors in English translation. No foreign-language proficiency required. Carries General Education credit.

  • PHIL 2110 - Elementary Logic and Critical Thinking

    3 credit hours

    Principles of deductive and inductive reasoning, problem solving, and the analysis of arguments in everyday language.

Choose 6 hours from:

  • HIST 2010 - Survey of United States History I

    3 credit hours

    Survey of the political, economic, social, cultural, and diplomatic phases of American life in its regional, national, and international aspects. HIST 2010 discusses the era from the beginning to 1877. HIST 2020 discusses the era from 1877 to the present. These courses are prerequisite for all advanced courses in American history and satisfy the General Education History requirement. HIST 2010 is NOT a prerequisite for HIST 2020.

  • HIST 2020 - Survey of United States History II

    3 credit hours

    Survey of the political, economic, social, cultural, and diplomatic phases of American life in its regional, national, and international aspects. HIST 2010 discusses the era from the beginning to 1877. HIST 2020 discusses the era from 1877 to the present. These courses are prerequisite for all advanced courses in American history and satisfy the General Education History requirement. HIST 2010 is NOT a prerequisite for HIST 2020.

  • HIST 2030 - Tennessee History  3 credit hours  

    HIST 2030 - Tennessee History

    3 credit hours

    The role of the state in the development of the nation. May be used to satisfy one part of the General Education History requirement.

Subtotal: 30 Hours

Junior

Subtotal: 30 Hours

Senior

Subtotal: 28 Hours

Total hours in program: 120

Academic Map

Following is a printable, suggested four-year schedule of courses:

Philosophy, B.A., Academic Map  

Dr. Ron Bombardi
Department Chair
ron.bombardi@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand
Assistant Professor
jenna.gray-hildenbrand@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Michael Hinz
Associate Professor
michael.hinz@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Clarence Sholé Johnson
Professor
clarence.johnson@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Rebekka King
Assistant Professor
rebekka.king@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Mary Magada-Ward
Professor
mary.magada-ward@mtsu.edu

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Dr. James Phil Oliver
Associate Professor
james.oliver@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Michael Principe
Professor
michael.principe@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Jack Purcell
Associate Professor
jack.purcell@mtsu.edu

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Philosophy

PHIL 1030 - Introduction to Philosophy
3 credit hours

Basic philosophical problems suggested by everyday experience integrated into a coherent philosophy of life through comparison with solutions offered by prominent philosophers.

PHIL 2110 - Elementary Logic and Critical Thinking
3 credit hours

Principles of deductive and inductive reasoning, problem solving, and the analysis of arguments in everyday language.

PHIL 3120 - Perspectives on Science and Math
3 credit hours

Readings, discussions, and activities associated with history and philosophy of science and mathematics.

PHIL 3150 - Ethics
3 credit hours

Examines major ethical theories, the moral nature of human beings, and the meaning of good and right and applies ethical theories to resolving moral problems in personal and professional lives.  

PHIL 3160 - Philosophy of Happiness
3 credit hours

Examines the concept of human happiness and its application in everyday living as discussed since antiquity by philosophers, psychologists, writers, spiritual leaders, and contributors to popular culture.

PHIL 3170 - Ethics and Computing Technology
3 credit hours

Exposes students to the fundamentals of ethical theory and familiarizes them with some of the practical, ethical, and legal issues with which they would have to deal as computer scientists.

PHIL 3200 - Asian Thought
3 credit hours

The origins, development, essence, and implications of leading philosophical-religious traditions originating in Asia.

PHIL 3300 - Philosophy of Religion
3 credit hours

Examines issues of religious experience, religious knowledge, faith and reason, the existence and nature of God, evil, religious diversity, life after death.

PHIL 3310 - Atheism and Philosophy
3 credit hours

Examines various philosophical perspectives on atheism, understood as the belief that no transcendent creator deity exists, and that there are no supernatural causes of natural events. Compares and contrasts this belief with familiar alternatives (including theism, agnosticism, and humanism), considers the spiritual significance of atheism, and explores implications for ethics and religion.

PHIL 3340 - Environmental Ethics
3 credit hours

Examines the relation of humans to the rest of nature, clarifying the relevant ethical issues and exploring from various perspectives their application to present and future ecological concerns.

PHIL 3345 - Bioethics
3 credit hours

Explores ethical issues arising from the practice of medical therapeutics, from the development of new biomedical technologies, and more largely from reflections on life's meaning and prospects in the face of changing modalities of intervention fostered particularly by the various life sciences.

PHIL 3400 - Symbolic Logic
3 credit hours

(Same as MATH 3400.) The elements of propositional calculus-propositional connectives and their truth functions, validity, proof, and an introduction to quantification theory. Where appropriate and natural, parallels from elementary set theory introduced.

PHIL 3500 - Philosophy, Race, and Society
3 credit hours

Examines sociopolitical and existential concerns of African Americans, especially in respect to issues of justice, equality, and the very meaning of life in a world of anti-black racism, against the backdrop of "enlightenment" philosophical discourse on race and personhood.

PHIL 3600 - Philosophy and Film
3 credit hours

Examination of the cinematic expression of philosophical issues and development of philosophical issues in cinema.

PHIL 3690 - Social Philosophy
3 credit hours

The main problems of social philosophy are surveyed: the distinctive nature of social reality and the nature of social knowledge and how they relate to value theory.

PHIL 4010 - History of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHIL 1030 or permission of instructor. The development of philosophical thought from Thales to Occam.

PHIL 4020 - History of Modern Philosophy
3 credit hours

The development of philosophical thought from Hobbes to Hegel.

PHIL 4050 - Nineteenth-Century Philosophy
3 credit hours

Emphasis on movements such as German idealism, the rise of the philosophy of the social sciences, historical materialism, utilitarianism, and early critiques of modernism.

PHIL 4100 - Aesthetics
3 credit hours

The nature of art, aesthetic experience, and artistic creation.

PHIL 4130 - Philosophy and Literature
3 credit hours

Explores philosophical questions about literature, philosophical themes in literature, and differing assessments of the relation of philosophical to literary texts.

PHIL 4150 - Formal Logic
3 credit hours

The nature and methods of formal deductive logic, truth functional logic, quantification theory, identity relations, propositional calculus.

PHIL 4200 - Existentialism
3 credit hours

The nature, significance, and application of the teachings of several outstanding existential thinkers.

PHIL 4240 - Recent Continental Philosophy
3 credit hours

The critical examination of various movements and key figures in recent European philosophy.

PHIL 4250 - Philosophy of Gender
3 credit hours

Examines major work in contemporary feminist philosophy and feminist theory, with particular emphasis on the relation of sex and gender, feminist accounts of inquiry, feminist ethical issues, and feminist aesthetics.  

PHIL 4300 - American Philosophy
3 credit hours

Development of American thought with emphasis on naturalism, idealism, and pragmatism.

PHIL 4350 - Philosophy of Language
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PHIL 2110 recommended. Introduces students to the most influential analyses of meaning, reference, and truth of early twentieth-century Anglo-American philosophy; explores how the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein transforms canonical accounts of language; considers the role of metaphor in human communication and understanding.

PHIL 4400 - Analytic Philosophy
3 credit hours

Examines twentieth-century analytic movement including logical atomism, logical positivism, indeterminacy semantics, ordinary language philosophy.

PHIL 4450 - Marx and Marxism
3 credit hours

An examination of the development of Marxist philosophy up to and including the present.

PHIL 4500 - Philosophy of Science
3 credit hours

The methods, problems, and presuppositions of scientific inquiry.

PHIL 4550 - Philosophy of Mind
3 credit hours

Classical philosophy of mind (emphases: the mind-body problem, theories of consciousness) and contemporary applications of philosophy to psychology (emphases: logic and cognition, emotion and reason, artificial intelligence).

PHIL 4560 - Philosophy of Music
3 credit hours

Examines issues in both traditional philosophies of music and contemporary philosophies of music making and musical perception.

PHIL 4600 - Philosophy of History
3 credit hours

Nature of historical knowledge and problems of historical inquiry; meaning and value of history; reality of the past; historical determinism and human freedom.

PHIL 4800 - Readings in Philosophy
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Directed study concerning a particular philosophical problem or thinker.

Religious Studies

RS 2030 - Religion and Society
3 credit hours

Introduces the academic study of world religions with an emphasis on the ways religion both influences and is influenced by society and human behavior.

RS 3010 - The Bible: Its Origin and Content
3 credit hours

Studies the historical development of biblical and extra-biblical texts with an emphasis on cultivating the skills of critical textual analysis, an understanding of reception history, and the emergence of diverse canons and interpretive approaches across different communities, both Jewish and Christian.

RS 3020 - Comparative Religion
3 credit hours

The meaning of religion in life, both ancient and modern. The impact of intellectual and emotional commitment upon conduct is emphasized through a study of world religions.

RS 3030 - Mapping Religious Diversity
3 credit hours

Explores religious diversity in North America with a focus on local case studies. Students will conduct original, ethnographic research examining religious sites in Murfreesboro.

RS 3040 - The History of Christianity
3 credit hours

A socio-historical survey of Christian thought and practice from the patristic period to the contemporary era. Discusses major events, texts, and figures in Christian history. Includes the study of theological concepts, interpretations of scripture, Christianity and politics, gender and sexuality, and disputes over orthodoxy.

RS 3050 - Rites of Passage
3 credit hours

The study of religious rituals and ceremonies that mark specific points in time, namely those in which individuals experience transition (births, weddings, funerals, and initiations). Explores how rites of passage and religious identities around the world are constructed and serve as sites of both conflict and resolution in a variety of religious traditions and cultural contexts.

RS 3600 - Religion and Film
3 credit hours

Examines the cinematic expression of religious traditions and development of religious issues in cinema.

RS 4010 - Global Christianity
3 credit hours

Examines global Christianities focusing on how narratives of the global correspond to and feed into localized religious practices within Christianity in a variety of regional and specific contexts.

RS 4020 - Jesus of Nazareth
3 credit hours

Surveys the diverse portraits of Jesus reflected in the socio-culture interface of the first century CE, early Christian literature, the modern scholarly quest for the historical Jesus, and in light of recent discussions, movements, films, and books

RS 4030 - Contemporary Issues in Indigenous Religions
3 credit hours

Examines and analyzes contemporary issues in the religious lives of Native American, First Nations, Aboriginal, and other indigenous groups from a religious studies perspective.

RS 4050 - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
3 credit hours

Explores historical and socio-cultural developments within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; their relation to other religions of the world.

RS 4120 - Cults and New Religious Movements
3 credit hours

Investigates how new religious movements emerge, develop, and interact with American society and surveys "cult controversies" in the United States, asking why some new religious movements gain cultural legitimacy while others do not.

RS 4130 - Religion and Law
3 credit hours

Explores the complex and contested relationship between religion and the law by examining how debates over the proper relationship of religion and government as well as the limits of religious freedom have developed and changed over time.

RS 4700 - Special Topics in Religious Studies
3 credit hours

An in-depth study of a specific topic in Religious Studies. Content will vary from semester to semester and will reflect the research interests and expertise of the instructor. May be taken more than once, as topics change for a maximum of 9 hours.

RS 4800 - Readings in Religious Studies
3 credit hours

Directed study concerning a particular problem or thinker within religious studies.