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Philosophy in the Humanities

Philosophy in the humanities is a conceptual practice--a mode of questioning and a form of critical reading and analysis--that is integrated into three of the five Schools at Hampshire, and into the broader Five College philosophical community. Within the humanities our specialties lie within the fields of modern and contemporary European philosophy, critical theory, the philosophy of art, feminist philosophy, and critical race theory.  In introductory and advanced level courses in these fields, philosophy students in the humanities learn, among other things, poststructuralist, historical, analytical, Marxist, and psychoanalytical modes of analysis, and are challenged to think critically about the nature of language, literature, art, power, modernity, difference, and aesthetic form.

We challenge students to devise innovative concentrations and projects of their own within philosophy, and/or to expand philosophical boundaries by combining cutting-edge philosophical questions with novel approaches in related disciplines. The result is a diversity of possible tracks within and beyond the limits of multiple philosophical traditions.

Concentrations in philosophy

Concentrations in philosophy at Hampshire tend to take four different forms.  Many Hampshire students are interested in studying 1) philosophy as an element in a concentration, 2) philosophy as a central part of a concentration, 3) a philosophical field as a concentration, or 4) the field of philosophy as a concentration.

1) Philosophy as an element in a concentration

Hampshire students often combine coursework in philosophy with projects in other humanities and cultural studies fields, such as literature, painting, music, dance, film, video, performance, visual culture, or political theory.  Philosophy in this case can help you to bring out conceptual complexities in your area of interest, deepen your thinking, and strengthen your theoretical perspectives.  It can reshape aesthetic decisions and political choices. If you decide to choose an area of study that includes a substantive amount of philosophy, we recommend taking at least four courses in philosophy.  

2) Philosophy as central part of a concentration

Hampshire students often pursue philosophy as a central component of their field of concentration. For these students, philosophy not only helps to shape and complicate an interdisciplinary background, but becomes aas well a fundamental form of argumentation and analysis. Such students engage philosophical questioning as a discipline, a historically emerging vocabulary. For students who are interested in studying philosophy as a central mode of thought, we recommend taking at least eight courses in carefully selected areas of philosophy, areas that make for an innovative and distinctive area of expertise. This will put you in a good position to engage in work in related disciplines as a philosopher and to bring insights from these disciplines to the practice of philosophy.

3) A philosophical field as a concentration

Hampshire students often specialize in specific areas of philosophy, such as the philosophy of sound or music, aesthetic theory, the philosophy of the arts, Deleuze, Irigaray, Kristeva, Butler, critical theory, or the philosophy of race. Such specializations invite distinctive intellectual trajectories that productively draw on coursework in other theoretical and artistic fields.

4) The field of philosophy as a concentration

Some Hampshire students choose philosophy as a basic field of concentration, striving to develop a broad understanding of philosophy as an academic discipline, including its different traditions and subfields. For students wishing to develop a broad and basic philosophical expertise, we recommend selecting at least eight courses ranging widely across the following set of philosophical fields:

Contemporary European philosophy; feminist philosophy; critical race theory; philosophy of art; philosophy of culture; aesthetics; social and political philosophy; ethics; history of European philosophy (ancient, medieval, and modern); Asian philosophy; African philosophy; Latin American philosophy; Native American philosophy; applied moral, social, and political philosophy; logic; metaphysics; philosophy of language; philosophy of mind; epistemology; philosophy of science; and philosophy of religion.  

Students following this track are especially encouraged to pay close attention to the broader philosophical offerings at other area institutions.

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Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies
Hampshire College
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Amherst, MA 01002