Philosophy and Religion


    First Student Club Meeting

     Wednesday, October 1st, Hepburn 220




    One seeks a picture of the world in that philosophy
    in which we feel freest; in which our most powerful
    drive feels free to function.
     - Nietzsche


    Wise men speak because they have something to say;
     fools because they have to say something.
      - Plato


    Philosophy has been called “the ultimate transferable work skill” because it teaches how to think critically, reason effectively, communicate clearly, solve problems intelligently, and construct thoughtful well-grounded beliefs. The Times of London (August 15, 1998) writes of philosophy in America:  


    "The great virtue of philosophy is that it teaches not what to think, but how to think. It is the study of meaning, of the principles underlying conduct, thought and knowledge. The skills it hones are the ability to analyze, to question orthodoxies and to express things clearly. However arcane some philosophical texts may be…the ability to formulate questions and follow arguments is the essence of education. 

    It can also be studied at many levels. In the U.S., where the number of philosophy graduates has increased by 5 per cent a year during the 1990s, only a very few go on to become philosophers. Their employability, at 98.9 per cent, is impressive by any standard. Philosophy has always been a good training for the law; but it is equally useful for computer scientists. In this country, the Higher Education Statistics Survey puts philosophy of science right up with medicine in its employment record for graduates.  Philosophy is, in commercial jargon, the ultimate 'transferable work skill."   



    Philosophy aims at expanding the social value of reasonableness and critical reflection by teaching and revising worldviews. It is the task of philosophical inquiry to motivate the students to consciously examine their values and form their own worldviews.

    Under the humanities rubric, the disciplines we strive to teach our students represent the humanizing influence of higher education. Inevitably in our technological society we must develop specialized disciplines. Our task is not to teach students to be specialists but to be complete and well-rounded human beings. The skills and disciplines philosophy emphasizes enhance the intellect, creativity, empathy, breadth of view, and imagination. Philosophy inculcates qualities which run across the gamut of specialties. Philosophical education serves students for all professions as well as for the art of living. The goal of the Philosophy and Religion Department is to educate the whole person for the whole of life.

    Our more definite goals address specific areas of competence. In the first place, we aim to impart skills in logical, rational, and critical thinking. We also strive to develop the moral and aesthetic sensibility of our students. We orient our courses around metaphors as “journey” and “exploration.” We strive to acquaint our students with the ideas of the great thinkers and the classical problems of philosophy: the mind-body problem, theories of truth, the debate on free will, the nature of scientific method, problems of aesthetics, and social and political philosophy.

    The question of cultural diversity is central to current discourse. Our courses in philosophy of religion aim to heighten the students’ awareness of diversity in religious and spiritual traditions. We seek to engage students on issues of fundamental importance in theory of religion such as conflicting truth claims and the debate between science and theology.

    We aim to inspire our students to value the greatness of the Western, Eastern and indigenous contributions to world culture. We seek to develop in the students an historical sense and a comparative eye for diversity. Our courses aim to equip students with knowledge and values essential to civic and individual life. We believe that the skills, ideals and values we stress are essential to democratic traditions and pluralistic society.

    Finally, we seek to stimulate the students’ sense of wonder and imagination and to cultivate independence and creativity of thought. Our hope is to awaken in our students qualities of mind and spirit which will serve the individuals and the community. We believe that this task makes the contribution of the Department of Philosophy and Religion to this institution both challenging and significant.