Philosophy & Religious Studies


It’s been said that philosophy bakes no bread, and you may think it hard to figure out just what philosophy is good for.   Is it just argument, or speculation, or a required course in college?  Well, here’s a thought.  Philosophy is fun.  Like skiing down a sheer cliff or singing a difficult song, philosophy can fill you with the edgy excitement that makes being human rather wonderful.  You don’t believe it?  Then I suggest you seek out a philosopher and find out just what you’re missing; because philosophy may bake no bread, but the forts it provides can make the meal of life more satisfying.                                                                                   - John Cleese

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy focuses on fundamental questions concerning the nature of reality, knowledge, and values: metaphysics seeks to understand the true nature of reality in general and of humankind in particular; logic and epistemology endeavor to determine valid methods of reasoning and the limits and criteria of knowledge; and ethics attempts to formulate the basic moral norms by which our choices and actions should be governed.  Through the study of philosophy, students can improve their understanding of themselves and the world in which they live; they can increase their command of intellectually responsible methods of establishing and evaluating beliefs and theories; and they can develop more effective ways of determining their moral duties.

In general, the study of philosophy helps to develop the ability to think clearly.  If one understands how to think clearly, one can apply the techniques of critical and constructive thinking to the study of any discipline or to the concerns of any occupation.  The department’s curriculum provides an opportunity for all students, whether majoring in philosophy or not, to be educated in the methods of critical and constructive thought through reflection on the fundamental presuppositions of knowledge in general and of individual disciplines – such as art, law, mathematics, religion, and science – in particular.

Philosophy at Washburn

The Philosophy Department at Washburn University prides itself on the quality of its program and the success of its graduates.  Our graduates have become lawyers, bankers, ministers, priests, college teachers, optometrists, and physicians.  Some have owned or managed businesses and some have become homemakers.  Philosophy provides an excellent foundation for success in a variety of academic and professional fields and also helps its students come to a better understanding of themselves and of their world.

At Washburn, philosophy courses are typically taught by professors who hold the Ph.D. and who have many years of teaching experience.  Individual classes are relatively small.  Most required philosophy courses have fewer than 20 students.  Junior-senior philosophy courses seldom have more than 15 students.  This means that students have the opportunity for substantial class participation and considerable individual attention from full-time professionals.

If you are interested in pursuing a challenging undergraduate program in Philosophy, we invite you to visit the department at Washburn and discuss your plans with us.