About the Philosophy Program

“Philosophy’s center is everywhere and its circumference nowhere.” - Maurice Merleau-Ponty, French philosopher.

Socrates once proclaimed that "the unexamined life is not worth living." As Philosophy is more suitably defined as an ongoing activity, rather than a fixed object of study, the idea of actively examining one's life is just as accurate a description of philosophy today as it was 2,500 years ago when the Greek philosopher uttered those words.

Philosophy is a discipline for the curious-minded — an attempt (as the philosopher Harry Frankfurt puts it) “to get to the bottom of things.” Philosophy involves the attempt to understand our world, and our place in it, which in turn has involved the questioning of the very limits of human understanding and knowledge. This concern with the character of truth and limitations of knowledge unfolds within the branch of Philosophy known as EPISTEMOLOGY. In this ongoing quest for answers to our most fundamental questions, philosophers have challenged traditional responses by uncovering logical inconsistencies in commonly held beliefs; some have paid the price for this intellectual brazenness! Accordingly, the study of LOGIC has also developed within the domain of Philosophy.

The philosopher’s pursuit for a better understanding of life and our role in it has made it inevitable that philosophers also consider the principles that make life valuable, and as such, seemingly abstract ideas like justice and happiness are considered in ETHICS classes. In a related vein, the very possibility of free will and moral choice, along with other topics concerning the nature of reality, God, and the self, are discussed in one of the oldest branches of Philosophy, known as METAPHYSICS.

Regardless of the specialty area, because of its insistence on rational dialogue, and its backbone in logic, Philosophy makes a suitable preparation for most majors, but especially for those students who plan to go into law or policymaking.

Program Level Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will:

  1. Exhibit strong academic behaviors, evidenced by their timeliness, regular attendance, participation in class activities, adherence to the College Honor Code, and awareness of their opportunities and obligations as students.

  2. Demonstrate through oral and/or written work knowledge of various metaphysical and epistemological questions and problems in philosophy including the nature and limits of knowledge, the existence of God, the Mind-Body Problem, the Freedom vs. Determinism and the Absolutism vs. Relativism debates, and related topics in ethics.

  3. Demonstrate the ability to evaluate and make compelling arguments about the validity, soundness, strength, and cogency of inductive and deductive arguments, and critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of positions/theories relative to a specific problem/issue in metaphysics or epistemology (and/or ethics), with particular attention to the underlying philosophical assumptions contained therein.

Other Resources

Special Departmental Programs

Transfer Preparation

Many colleges and universities offer baccalaureate degrees in this field. Students planning to transfer to a four-year college or university need to know which courses completed at Santa Monica College will be accepted at the specific college/university. Please consult a Counselor. SMC has transfer articulation agreements with the many UC and CSU campuses, as well as many private and out-of-state institutions.

Program Map

Degrees and Certificates

Currently, there are no degrees or certificates offered in this discipline at Santa Monica College. Most students should plan to transfer to a four-year institution to continue their education toward a degree in this discipline. Transferring students who wish to qualify for an Associate degree before leaving Santa Monica College should discuss their plans with a Counselor before selecting classes.

Potential Career Options

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