There are several ways to begin the study of philosophy. Perhaps the most natural way is to take an introductory course. These come in several varieties.
The approach through philosophical problems. One sort of introductory course consists in a survey of traditional and contemporary philosophical problems, ranging over a wide range of areas on philosophy, such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and religion.Philosophy 181 and 232 are such courses, as are most sections of Philosophy 202 and the Honors Introduction, Philosophy 297.
The topical approach. Another natural way to approach philosophy is to connect your interest in the subject to interests you already have. For this reason the Department regularly offers first-year seminars on a variety of topics, under Philosophy 196. Because these seminars normally focus on a limited topic (such as the question whether humans have free will), they do not satisfy the prerequisite for the concentration.
The historical approach. A third sort of introductory course is the historically oriented introduction, which traces the development of philosophical thought through a series of major figures (such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, or Kant). Philosophy 234 and some sections of Philosophy 181, 202, and 297 are taught in this way.
Students interested in becoming acquainted with philosophy should decide for themselves which sort of introduction suits them best.
In addition to these introductory courses, the department offers several courses at the 300-level without prerequisites. Although not designed as introductions, these courses are intended for those who, having no previous background in philosophy, want to study some particular area of human concern in a philosophical way. Frequently offered courses at the 300-level without prerequisites include:
320 Worldview of Modern Science
340 Mind, Matter, and Machines
355 Contemporary Moral Problems
359 Law and Philosophy
365 Problems of Religion