Philosophy and the Liberal Arts

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1971


Western Michigan University


The focus of these remarks is a simple, general question: How should philosophy be taught to college students? Notice that the possibility is simply taken for granted. We do not ask if we can teach but how we can teach. Is this to treat philosophy like any other field within the humanities or sciences? We give instruction in mathematics, physics, history, English literature; can we not also teach philosophy? An etymological rephrasing would suggest this assumption is open to serious reservations. How can college students be taught "to love wisdom?" Can so radical a personality-commitment be taught, be the product of three unit courses? Is there any other subject-matter within the contemporary liberal curriculum which speaks of love as its finality with wisdom as its object? At least three serious difficulties confront this presupposition of our initial question. They should be raised and may serve, perhaps, as coordinates within which we may chart a response, if not an answer, to the inquiry we have set ourselves.