The Philosophy and Religious Studies Department offers a Philosophy major and minor and a Religious Studies major and minor. The Philosophy and Religious Studies Department also supports the Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy.
The Philosophy program engages with big questions concerning existence, knowledge, and values. What does it mean to lead a fulfilled life as a whole person? What is the nature of reality? What makes one the same person over time? What are the relations between persons, souls, minds, and bodies? What are the basic questions we ask about our own existence and the meaning of life? What counts as knowledge? Are there different kinds of knowing? What are the sources of knowledge? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? What are the sources of beauty? What's the relationship between beauty and the good? What is the right thing to do? What makes someone a good person? What are the sources of moral goodness? What are the grounds of human rights? What is justice and how do we bring about just communities?
The Philosophy program approaches these questions through a variety of methodologies. We engage the history of philosophy, because our questions and conversations are inevitably situated in accounts in intellectual history. Students receive rigorous training in argumentation, critical thinking, logic, and analysis of thought and language in order to develop standards of clarity and precision for reflective judgment. Philosophy majors are encouraged to think systematically, making interdisciplinary connections with the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Philosophy students are encouraged to become engaged learners by reading, writing, discussing, and reflecting on history, arguments, and interdisciplinary connections. The Philosophy major is ideal for multiple professional pursuits, including law, journalism, publishing, advertising, public relations, and non-profit management.
Religious Studies represents an essential ingredient of a liberal arts education by encouraging sustained reflection on what it is to be human. The Religious Studies program combines critical analysis with sympathetic imagination, allowing us to understand more fully not only the 'data' of vast, diverse and influential religious traditions, but also the human beings who participate in them. Toward these ends, the Religious Studies program utilizes a tremendous breadth of conceptual tools to foster understanding of religion in all its richness, drawing from anthropology, archeology, history, literature, psychology, philosophy, politics, sociology and theology. Our courses reflect an abiding commitment to the study of the traditions that have indelibly shaped our own local context, as well as an active engagement with a broad range of the world's religions that presently constitute our global environment.
At Hendrix, students pursue their interests in religion through varied activities including textual studies, field work, international travel, one-on-one interviews, film studies, artistic projects and service learning. Students of religion think deeply about matters of the utmost concern, including the purpose of life, the nature of reality, and our relationships with others. They develop skills of careful reading and clear writing as they wrestle with these fundamental questions, as well as a greater appreciation of their own assumptions, a respect for others, and a firm basis for constructively contributing to solutions for the problems of our time.
Students find that the Hendrix Philosophy and Religious Studies Department cultivates an intellectual environment that is open, friendly, and welcoming. The department is located in Ellis Hall, in which we encourage an atmosphere of intellectual wonder and thoughtful inquiry. Students benefit from close contact with professors who are active scholars and committed teachers, animated by their love of philosophy, religious studies, and the liberal arts. Scholars in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department have connections with Classics, Study of the Mind, Environmental Studies, the Miller Center, Social Justice, and the Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy, which aims to identify, clarify, and contribute to the understanding of the emerging religious and philosophical issues of our time.