Meet the Faculty
Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” The disciplines of philosophy and religion examine our lives by investigating the most basic concepts and categories of our self-understanding: true and false, right and wrong, real and imaginary, sacred and profane.
Courses in the history of philosophy introduce students to the ideas of great thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Nietzsche. Undergraduates learn by doing – by engaging in argumentative dialogue with these philosophers. Non-majors acquire valuable skills of analysis and argumentation while learning to ask fundamental questions about identity, meaning, and value. Thematic courses range from ethics and social philosophy to the mind-body problem. Advisors encourage students to acquire background in a special interest by taking courses in other disciplines. A philosopher of science, for example, needs to study biology, just as a student interested in aesthetics must learn about art, music, and literature.
Religious studies examine the history, beliefs, practices, and role of religion in creating and shaping the world’s cultures and societies. The department offers courses in Western and Asian religions, courses in scriptures such as the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, as well as more advanced and thematic courses such as Religion and Film, Women and Religion, and Buddhist Philosophy. The objectives of the Religious Studies major are to explore the history of religions, to comprehend religious beliefs along with their philosophical and psychological underpinnings, to appreciate the varieties of religious experience and to assess the role that religions have historically played in shaping society’s values.
The department offers majors and minors in both philosophy and religious studies.