Philosophy is the attempt to answer the most fundamental questions about ethics, politics, knowing, and being —the questions on which many other important questions depend— through rigorous and informed rational inquiry. Some of these questions have been pursued, in many different places, for thousands of years; others have arisen only with more recent developments in science or culture. In the contemporary world, philosophy has become a fully global discipline. The Philosophy major at NYU Abu Dhabi seeks to integrate the study of contemporary international philosophy with an understanding of philosophy's rich multicultural history.
Philosophy, past and present, may be distinguished broadly into two branches. Practical philosophy includes ethics (fundamental questions about the good, the right, and the virtuous in relation to individuals) and political philosophy (fundamental questions about duty, obligation, and rights in relation to the state). Theoretical philosophy includes epistemology (fundamental questions about belief, truth, and knowledge) and metaphysics (fundamental questions about reality and its structure). At the same time, no field of inquiry or endeavor is without its own most fundamental and therefore philosophical questions; hence, philosophy also encompasses within these two branches, a wide range of more specialized and interdisciplinary areas. Indeed, many academic disciplines that are now well established as mature fields of inquiry began as branches of philosophy. Among philosophy's most important tools is logic — itself another field of inquiry originated by philosophers.
The faculty in Philosophy is actively engaged in the pursuit of answers to philosophical questions and aims to enable students to pursue such questions themselves in a way that will meet the highest intellectual standards. This collaborative pursuit prepares students for graduate work in philosophy or other fields of inquiry; and for any of the many professions that benefit from analytical thinking and argumentation, such as politics, law, medicine, and business; and for a more reflective life of deepened awareness and understanding.
Electives are determined in consultation with the student's academic mentor and should reflect a reasonable balance of courses in the following three areas: history of philosophy, practical philosophy, and theoretical philosophy. Courses other than Logic typically involve intensive discussion and substantial writing.