Hampden Sydney, VA 23943
Dr. Patrick A. Wilson, Chair
DOES THE WORLD EXIST AS WE THINK IT DOES?
One morning at work you remember that you have a meeting with your boss that started 10 minutes ago! You hurry down to her office, but your boss's secretary looks at you with pity. "No," he says, "you don't have a meeting this morning." Slowly you realize that you had dreamt about having the meeting. But perhaps you are dreaming now and risk being late for that meeting after all. How can you tell? Perhaps what you take to be your life is all a dream! Are you sure there are other people, people who want to teach you philosophy? Are you sure the world is round? Have you ever seen it (not a picture that can be fabricated)? Perhaps the world is a cube.
Would you like to be able to think clearly, creatively, and effectively about this sort of question? If so, then you should study philosophy.
There is more. Imagine that you come across some obscure ancient manuscript unlike any you have ever seen. What does it mean? More importantly, what is it for a series of marks to have a meaning? What makes it true that the marks you are looking at now have a meaning, whereas others (perhaps those scribbled by a child) do not? Are you intrigued? Would you like to be able to think clearly, creatively, and effectively about this sort of question? If you would, then you should think about studying philosophy. How about a more intriguing case?