Philosophy strives to answer the most fundamental questions about the world and our place in it. While people often implicitly assume answers to many of these questions, philosophy as a discipline seeks to identify and answer them through rigorous and informed inquiry and reasoning.
These questions have been pursued for thousands of years, in many different ways and in many different cultures, and the study of this rich history is itself part of the increasingly global discipline of philosophy. Its main branches include metaphysics (questions about the structure of reality); ethics (questions about the good, the right, and the virtuous); epistemology (questions about knowledge, truth, and inquiry); philosophy of mind (questions about cognition, consciousness, and emotion); philosophy of language (questions about meaning and its linguistic expression); and political philosophy (questions about justice, liberty, and the state). At the same time, no field of inquiry or endeavor is without its own most fundamental and therefore philosophical questions; hence, philosophy encompasses a wide range of interdisciplinary areas such as philosophy of science (including philosophies of physics, biology, cognitive science, and the social sciences); philosophy of mathematics; aesthetics; philosophy of law; and philosophy of religion. Many academic disciplines that are now well established as mature fields of inquiry in their own right began as branches of philosophy. Among philosophy’s most important tools is logic—another field of inquiry originated by philosophers.
Faculty in NYU’s internationally recognized Department of Philosophy are deeply engaged in developing new philosophical knowledge; in training graduate students to become the next generation of leaders in philosophy; and in preparing undergraduates for the many professional pursuits that benefit from critical thinking, analysis, and argumentation (including education, law, medicine, politics, business, computer science, and publishing) and for the kind of life deepened by awareness and reflection that is most worth living.