Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts.
Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity. ...
Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein Tractatus 4.112
Why study philosophy?
Philosophy is about some of the deepest, most fascinating questions there are, such as - How should I live? What am I? Can science explain everything? Does God exist? Do we have free will? What is beauty? Students read the works of the world's greatest thinkers, ancient and modern, Chinese and Western, from Confucius and Plato to Zhu Xi and Kant to Zhuangzi and Nietzsche. Philosophy students acquire a deep appreciation of universal human concerns, and broaden their horizons in a way no other field of study can. They also learn to apply what they learn to issues facing citizens of contemporary societies. Philosophy offers excellent training for life-long learning and for a wide range of careers by developing skills in interpreting, organizing, and evaluating complex theories; identifying and analyzing problems and reasoning critically and creatively about how to solve them; applying logic to show why some views are well supported and others not; and communicating clearly in speech and writing. A core part of a traditional liberal arts education, philosophy is widely recognized as offering excellent preparation for a variety of professions in business, government, journalism, law, or medicine. Above all, the study of philosophy makes life more interesting and worthwhile.
Information about our courses
- Course web sites, lecture notes and timetable, etc.
- Syllabus - Courses offered, course descriptions, and information on the requirements for the major and minor
- The Arts Faculty BA Programme web site
- Dr Fraser has written these notes about the requirements for a philosophy major.
- Official HKU information portal
- Information about grading
- If you are taking any of our courses, please make sure that you read these notes on plagiarism and citation.
- Course evaluation results - Score summaries are usually available for reference in the department main office.
- University policy regarding arrangements during bad weather.
- Want to know what philosophy is about? Try our online guide Introducing philosophy.
- Some advice on studying philosophy from Dr. Joe Lau.
- Philosophers' Index - A very useful philosophy database for your research.
- Prizes for our philosophy students.
Here are some websites and articles about studying philosophy:
- "Why Study Philosophy" — a website explaining many good reasons for studying philosophy.
- UK Guardian 2007 - "I think therefore I am."
- New York Times 2008 - "In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined."
- Business Week 2010 - "Philosophy is Back in Business."
- Truthdig Book Review 2010 - "Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities." (A review of a book by a philosopher on the importance of humanities education to civil society.)
- An excellent blog post on "Adventures in Ethics and Science" commenting on a recent article in the Boston Review about the importance of philosophy education.
- A recent post at The Atlantic Monthly discussing whether philosophy might actually be the most practical undergraduate major.
- "What Can I Do with a Humanities Degree?" Not specifically about philosophy, but about the educational value of humanities subjects, including philosophy.
- Inside Higher Education - "Liberal Arts Grads Win Long-Term."
Graduates and alumni
- Hong Kong Legislator Margaret Ng, did a BA and MPhil in Philosophy at HKU.
- Former Hong Kong Legislator Martin Lee studied English and Philosophy at HKU.
- Professor Kwong-loi Shun. Chair Professor of Philosophy at Chinese University of Hong Kong. Former Vice-President and Principal of the University of Toronto at Scarborough.
- Terence Chang, former Headmaster of Diocesan Boys' School, studied Philosophy and Comparative Literature at HKU.
- Charles Chau, Former executive vice president of strategy and research as well as managing director for North Asia, MTV Networks.
- Many of our students have gone on for postgraduate studies overseas, e.g. Oxford, Berkeley, Brown, St. Andrews.
Comments, questions and problems - who to contact
- Dr. Joe Lau is the Director of undergraduate studies.
- The staff-student consultative committee meets with students regularly to discuss various issues. If you have any comments, please contact Dr. O'Leary or Dr Lau.
- For matters relating to sexual harrassment, please contact Dr. Alexandra Cook who is our sexual harassment officer.