Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Ways to Start Studying Philosophy at Penn

There are many ways to begin your studies of Philosophy at Penn. Believe it or not, you DON’T need to start with “PHIL 001: Introduction”. While this course indeed introduces students to a wide range of topics, approaches, and historical periods in philosophy, it is neither required for future study in philosophy nor the only sensible first course for students to take in philosophy. Virtually any course at the 200-level or below will function as a good introduction to the field. For example:

  • Students thinking about pursuing a philosophy major (or just curious about the origins of the Western Philosophical Tradition) are encouraged to start with the two course introductory sequence: Phil 003 (Ancient Philosophy) and Phil 004 (Modern Philosophy).
  • Students interested in ethics or politics would do well to start with Phil 002 (Ethics), Phil 072 (Bioethics), Phil 008 (The Social Contract) or Phil 277 (Justice, Law, and Morality).
  • Students interested in the relation between mind and world could start with Phil 244 (Philosophy of Mind), Phil 025 or 225 (Philosophy of Science), Phil 231 (Epistemology), or Phil 243 (Science Fiction and Philosophy).
  • Students interested in the arts or religion or education could start with Phil 080 (Aesthetics), Phil 234 (Philosophy of Religion), or Phil 249 (Philosophy of Education).

For information about current and tentative up-coming course offerings, click on "Courses" and "Provisional Upcoming Courses" at left.

For advice about course selection, please contact the Undergraduate Chair, who you can find on the faculty list.