I was a student at Cedarville University from 2003 to 2007. The philosophy classes I took there were among my most formative, both intellectually and spiritually. My philosophy professors were some of the most knowledgeable and able teachers that I’ve known. So, naturally, I was discouraged to hear that the school was considering dissolving the program.
For a Christian Liberal Arts University which is seeking to “inspire greatness,” there are few programs as crucial to its fabric as those in the Philosophy Department. If by “great” we mean marketable, I do not know about this decision’s wisdom. But if by “great” we mean something more consequential, this would be a grave mistake. The ability to self-examine, a rich understanding of history, an active and lively mind, the capacity to engage meaningfully with the world, a conception of the practical consequences of ideas, confidence that our activities are meaningful, thinking biblically and knowing what that means; without philosophy, these are not just difficult to come by—they are impossible.
Without a philosophy department Cedarville runs the risk of intellectual isolation and academic stagnation. I always felt that the philosophers needed a greater voice on campus, not a lesser one. Not that we are all philosophers or ought to be. No, but we need philosophers, all of us. Cedarville desperately needs people who specialize in philosophic areas, if for no other reason than that Jesus is Lord of every area of life, including the life of the mind.
Teaching my little girl about the love of Jesus and raising her to love the things he loves are the most important duties that I have. When it comes time for her to choose a college to attend, I will never be able to feel comfortable spending many thousands of dollars to send her to a school that refuses to exchange and wrestle with ideas. Real learning is stifled in such an environment, and a disciple of Jesus is nothing if not a learner.
Christopher M. Cuffman