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Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Dept. #3392

Ross Hall #223

1000 E. University Ave

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-3204

Email: relstudies@uwyo.edu

Email: philosophy@uwyo.edu

Who We Are

We are the dreamers of dreams, the seekers of truth, the ones that grasp at the heart of knowledge and the self. Philosophers throughout the ages have asked some of the most fundamental questions about the human experience: what is real, what is true, how do we know these things?

That's who we are. We are the ones that ask questions about ourselves, about humanity and the world around us, trying to understand the world around is in terms that can be absolute and unyielding, or supple and flexible. Like the scholars and philosophers of old we grapple with questions of importance and try to adapt their answers to our times, or to create new reasoning for old problems.

Philosophy

Ask anyone what philosophy is and you're bound to hear as many answers as many times you ask the question. The word "philosophy" originated in Ancient Greece, and the word's literal translation is "the love of wisdom." Philosophers seek to uncover the common and objective understandings of concepts everyone employs in everyday practices, such as "ethics," "truth," "good," "bad," "right" and "wrong," as well as "real" and "fiction."

Philosophy starts with difficult questions we all ask at some time or another: What can I know? What is knowledge, anyway, and what’s the best way of getting it? Is there a God? Why should I be moral?  Are people really free to act?  Is it all relative?  What is truth? 

These are important questions having to do with meaning and justification.  You can’t answer them by making observations or doing experiments.  Imagine dissecting persons to find out if they have free will – what would you be looking for, and how would you know if you found it?  The effort seems as futile as sending off a rocket ship or training your telescopes to look for God.  That’s why lots of people think you can’t answer these questions at all.

Philosophy is the effort to deal with these problems through sustained, hard, and critical thinking.  That’s what makes philosophy such good preparation for careers that call for you to use your mind, without prejudice but with rigor.

Is it hard work?  Sure!  But there’s no joy so great as using your mind to figure out a tough problem. 

“But just thinking hard about a problem won’t ever get you anywhere!”  Have you tried?  Try it – you might just be surprised. 

You don’t need to start from scratch.  Learning to swim or to program computers is hard enough without having to figure it all out on your own.  So why expect that learning to think carefully and critically all by yourself would be any easier?  People have been doing philosophy for a long time, and they’ve learned a lot.  That’s why there’s a discipline of philosophy.  That’s why there are books of philosophy.  That’s why there are courses in philosophy. 

Take a philosophy course.  As the old slogan has it, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.  But we can say it more positively:  

A mind is a wonderful thing to use – if you know how to use it!

Religion

Throughout history, religion has played an important role in shaping cultures and societies.

Religious beliefs have inspired armies in their wars and leaders in their decisions. Religions have provided the foundation for ethical behavior and in many societies have been the primary source of education. In today's world, religions remain important, influencing our responses to the events of 9/11, the Middle East crisis, and other recent events in other regions around the world. Even in our own secular United States, religions and their beliefs play a major role in our debates over public policy.

The Religious Studies Program offers a range of courses in the academic study of religions. These courses seek to acquaint students with religious beliefs and behavior, helping them to understand the ability of religions to define the world in which their adherents live and the power religions have to influence the behavior of their followers. Religious Studies courses cover a broad range of religions, both modern and historical. Some courses focus on understanding a single religion in a limited time period, while others compare aspects of different religions. Yet further courses focus on religious expression, studying how religious beliefs are depicted in literature, film, art and music. Many of these courses are offered by the Religious Studies Program, while others can be found in various departments, including anthropology, art, English, history and sociology.

Contact Us

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Dept. #3392

Ross Hall #223

1000 E. University Ave

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-3204

Email: relstudies@uwyo.edu

Email: philosophy@uwyo.edu

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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