Introduction to Philosophy

From left to right: Plato, Aristotle, Thomas A...

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Welcome, one and all, to the many philosophical detours of my mind.  Had you told me five years ago that I would have any kind of interest in philosophy whatsoever, I would have said, you really don’t know me at all. But, as it turns out, it was I who did not know me, and with great fortune, I began a journey into education and have learned quite a lot about myself and much of which I didn’t know I had in me. Through this journey, I have really come to love myself, who I am, what I am becoming, and what I have yet to accomplish through this ongoing process of learning and the growth that comes with it every step of the way.

I took my first college course in the summer of 2007 and my goal was to earn a degree in Library Science. I am the most curious of souls and I love to read, so I figured what better career for me than to become a Librarian where I would have access to a mass of information, in books, magazines, encyclopedias, art, music, and the world-wide web, just to name a few? But then I took a class the following term called Life Tracks. This class was designed to help individuals who were coming back to the college classroom after years of being gone from it. It taught time and stress management skills and spent a lot of time not only giving us the tools to believe in ourselves, but to do the research necessary for our dream career, so that we would be prepared and have a plan.

In doing this research, I learned that in order to become a Librarian, you must earn a Master’s degree. At first, I had not planned on getting more than an Associate’s degree, because I did not believe I had what it took or could even hope to get into a University, so I switched my major to accounting. I decided that since I have always been really good at math and there were so many jobs on so many levels in the accounting field since the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002, it would be ideal for me. So, that is what I set out to do. I took the required prerequisite classes in math and writing, a slew of computer classes, and every accounting class that was offered. I also took classes in music, art, and  management and supervisory development. I was having a blast!

As I approached 90 credits, I was sure I was getting close to graduating with my degree and went to see an academic advisor to get last minute instructions. What she said made my heart sink into my toes. Yes, I had almost 90 credits, which is the required number of credits for a degree, but I was missing a lot of the credits that were required specifically for an accounting degree. The classes I was missing included business classes, economics classes, some other type of classes, which I later found that philosophy and psychology classes would satisfy. So, I took a deep breath, reminded myself how much I enjoyed being in school, and made a commitment to myself to tackle and accomplish what was before me.

The business classes were, well, business classes. Yes, I learned from them, but they were nothing exciting; at least not at the time. As I have continued through this educational journey, I have found that things learned in one class are often essential to things further learned in other classes, so when people and concepts learned in the business classes started to tie into both my philosophy and psychology classes, I was thrilled. The economic classes were my least favorite. As a matter of fact, I detested them! For the first, microeconomics, I received a B for my grade. I felt insulted, not so much by the instructor, but by my own less-than-my-best achievement. The following term, I took macroeconomics from the same instructor and with a “grit my teeth” determination, I received an A for the class.

In choosing a psychology class, something I would have never chosen to take of my own accord, I decided that Human Sexuality would be the one that would most hold my interest and attention. The material was very interesting, to say the least, but little did I know, I also found the psychological concepts behind the things we studied to be far beyond fascinating! This particular course was a two part/two term class. In the first, a major term paper was required, and I received an A++ on the one I turned in, along with some very inspiring words from my instructor. The second class also required a major term paper, which I again received a grade of A++, mind-blowing comments from the instructor, and a request to use my paper as an example in future classes. She had me sign a release and everything. I will write more about this particular instructor at another time and include it in my Psychological Detours. She has been a very important part of how I got to where I am today in my education, and why I am a psychology major.

Now, to finally get to the point of this story, philosophy, I will tell of how my interest in the subject began and how it has grown. I took a philosophy class called Introduction to Elementary Ethics. I must say that a good instructor who knows the material well and can teach in a way that makes it fun and has the ability to make even the most complex material understandable, is key. Fortunately, I chose the class with just such an instructor. Her method of teaching included open discussions in class, lectures, and web assignments. I was surprised by how intense my thoughts and opinions were when it came to discussing different ethical views. My critical thinking skills really began to develop in this class, and I did so well that I received an A without having to take the final exam.

I did not consider taking another philosophy class again until I started at Penn State. As I was looking through the courses and trying to decide which would be my first classes at my new school, I saw a philosophy class that was marked as writing intensive, which means there is a lot of writing required throughout the course. I love to write, so I registered for the class. In the following four posts to this category, I will be sharing my four essays and hope to get some discussions started in regards to what I have written and beyond. I have since been looking into current day philosophers as well women philosophers over the centuries. There are some fascinating women out there who have had theories and beliefs that are still very strongly followed and are being further studied. As I read more, I will also post my thoughts of all that I learn.

On a final note, after completing all the missing classes at Portland Community College that I needed for my degree, I learned that I had not only earned an Associates of Applied Science in Accounting, but also an Associates in General Studies. That was very rewarding news indeed and I am now working on my third, but not final, degree…a BA in Psychology. I do want to also go on and earn a Master’s and ultimately a Doctorate. I have been thinking about possible dissertation topics and in doing some research, I learned something I didn’t know. I have always thought, that the Ph in PhD stood for either “physical” or “physician” and could never understand how someone could be a “doctor” without having gone to medical school. Silly me, and I know that now. The Ph actually stands for Philosophy! Now, that makes perfect sense. Philosophy is, in part, deep thinking and learned knowledge. I, myself, am a psychology major, working toward becoming a doctor of the mind. Being able to think, interpret, and analyze philosophically will be crucial to achieving success in studying, understanding, and potentially helping people heal, so to speak, their minds. Could anything be more exciting?

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