Historically, our area of the academy has been deeply connected to the history and development of the liberal arts, given that this tradition of study grew out of the philosophical and theological studies of the ancient and medieval academies. If the modern university could be traced to a single source, it would be Immanuel Kant’s work The Conflict of the Faculties, which structures the community of learning into distinct faculties each with its designated division of labor. In order for these faculties to pursue the truth unimpeded by other interests, each would require the autonomy of peer review and, more importantly, should be guided by reason because it is “free and admits of no command to hold something as true.” Since philosophy is the discipline devoted to reason as such, it assumes the position of “queen of the sciences” once held by theology in the medieval universities. Thus, our department not only holds a commitment to the liberal arts tradition, but bears the task of thinking about the very nature of that tradition and the way it continues to take shape in the emerging world of new technologies, new divisions of intellectual labor, and new ways of organizing knowledge.
Philosophy & Religious Studies Mission
The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies strives to offer excellent undergraduate instruction, to conduct first-rate scholarly research, and to perform dedicated service to the college, university, community, and academic profession.
Philosophy & Religious Studies Goals
- To prepare students for a fulfilling life by equipping them with the impetus, skills, and knowledge to ask the most fundamental questions of human existence.
To prepare students for further study at the graduate level.
- As such, the Department embodies the University’s commitment to the liberal arts tradition. The Department embraces this tradition by inducing its students and faculty to examine the values, attitudes, beliefs, and habits that define the nature and quality of life. In order to engage this tradition of inquiry, the Department seeks to develop students’ abilities in reasoning, analysis, criticism, argumentation, self-reflection, and self-expression. The Department also expects its students to attain a working knowledge of the fundamental issues in philosophical and religious thought.
- Moreover, through asking such fundamental questions, the Department intends to nurture collective and individual growth of the University’s community of learners through enlightenment and transformation. The Department thereby seeks to inculcate the values of justice, integrity, responsibility, respect, civility, tolerance, openness, and self-criticism that constitute the best of ethical systems. Thus, the Department intends to enable its students to participate and contribute knowledgeably and effectively as citizens to our democratic society and to lead rewarding, productive, and enriched lives.
To prepare students for life in an interconnected world of globalization.
- Accordingly, the Department promotes the search for truth through reasoned and disciplined inquiry. As a means of achieving such critical thinking, the Department instructs its students to communicate clearly and effectively. Furthermore, the Department trains its students to become discerning, analytical readers of challenging texts and insightful, creative interpreters of the ideas they discover.
To encourage and support faculty development.
- The Department, therefore, embraces multiculturalism by persuading students to recognize and understand human diversity as well as the diversity of ideas, institutions, philosophies, moral codes, and ethical principles. Exposure to such differences fulfills one of the University’s core commitments, to take seriously the perspectives of others, by raising students’ awareness of the wider world and fostering more critical self-awareness as well.
To encourage and support the faculty’s dedicated service to others.
- The Department supports its faculty so that they may become effective teachers, scholars, and researchers.
- The Department serves the College and University through considerable commitments to the General Education Program. Furthermore, the Department expects its faculty to be actively engaged in service through committee membership and other leadership roles. Finally, the Department encourages various forms of service to the community beyond Winthrop’s institutional embrace.