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Three Reasons Why I Teach Philosophy at a Seminary

By Paul M. Gould

Philosophy suffers from an image problem. In our technologically driven, anti-intellectual culture, it widely is perceived that philosophy offers no “this-wordly” good and is therefore a waste of time, or so the argument goes. Learning needs to be practical and is deemed valuable only if it provides a noncognitive benefit.

This pragmatic “I’m interested in learning only if I can see the benefit” mentality has made its way into the classroom, too. Often, as a philosopher teaching in a seminary, I spend the first few classes trying to convince my students — most of whom are future pastors — of the importance of philosophy.

I think that learning philosophy — the pursuit of truth and wisdom — is an intrinsic good; it is something that is valuable in and of itself. But (tipping my hat to the pragmatist) it also has other benefits. Philosophy is, as Plato puts it, something that is both good in itself and good for what it brings.

I’m passionate to learn and teach philosophy because it moves me. I’m passionate about learning the truth about God, the world, and myself, and philosophy helps me in these pursuits. But why teach philosophy at a seminary? Well, there are strategic reasons — Kingdom benefits — to helping future pastors and church leaders learn a little philosophy. Here are three reasons why I am passionate about teaching philosophy at a seminary…

Three Reasons Why I Teach Philosophy at a Seminary