What does a Philosophy Teacher do?
Philosophy, which literally means “a love of wisdom,” can be characterized as inquiry into the nature of things, the principles behind what is, and an investigation into topics such as knowledge, values, and principles. As a field of study, it is often considered to include aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, and metaphysics. A philosophy teacher is someone who instructs in this subject matter. In a survey course, all of these areas might be touched on, but in most philosophy classes, one of these areas, another division of philosophy — such as philosophy of mind or of a particular field, such as philosophy of psychology — or a subset thereof would be the topic.
If a philosophy teacher were instructing a course in aesthetics, he or she would address topics such as the nature of beauty, cultural standards of beauty, an understanding of taste, and how value is judged in the arts. When teaching ethics, he or she would cover questions such as the nature of morals, how and by what principles moral choices can and should be made, and the value that can be attached to various types of human conduct. A philosophy teacher in a course on epistemology would focus on the nature of knowledge, how knowledge is known to be valid, and the limits of human knowledge. In a course on logic, the bases of systematic reasoning would be explored. In a course on metaphysics, there would be exploration of the nature of reality, including questions about being, knowing, mind, matter, the external world, and the existence of God.
Since philosophy is primarily taught at the college level, most of those who would be classified as a philosophy teacher teach at a college or university and hold the title of professor. However, philosophy does not have to be restricted to older students. At the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence in Springfield, Massachusetts, for example, philosophy is taught to second graders several times a month, discussing topics from aesthetics, ethics, and metaphysics, among other areas. Their philosophy teacher for these exercises is a professor from Mount Holyoke College, which is nearby.
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