Philosophy has been called the mother of all sciences because every special science has started off as a branch of philosophy and gained independence only when it became able to acquire factual knowledge of the world. Philosophy is not interested in facts as such but rather in the methods used to investigate them, in the concepts needed to understand them, and in the reasons given for the views we hold about them. Thus, philosophy is thinking about thinking.
Following Aristotle, philosophy has been divided into theoretical and practical philosophy. Theoretical philosophy contains epistemology and philosophy of science which study the foundations of knowledge, and metaphysics which investigates the most general questions concerning being or existence. Practical philosophy includes the branches of philosophy that deal with things closer to everyday life: ethics, social philosophy, and legal philosophy. They all deal with values and norms related to individual and social action.
At the University of Eastern Finland, it is possible to study philosophy as a minor subject, i.e. to take the courses belonging to basic and intermediate studies. The advanced studies of law also contain some philosophical courses. The teaching activity of the philosophy staff concentrates on the courses of practical philosophy and of the methodology of law and social science. Their research interests are legal philosophy, legal argumentation, legal interpretation, the relationship between law and morality, and the analysis of diverse legal concepts. The staff co-operates actively with other subjects in teaching and research.
Philosophy is a useful minor subject for those interested in the theoretical, methodological and axiological foundations of their major subject. Especially postgraduate students will find the thinking skills and techniques that it offers useful outside the field of philosophy proper. The courses of argumentation and philosophy of science are especially recommendable in this regard.