How Can This Major or Minor Help You?
People often ask: What can one "do" with a major or minor in Religion and Philosophy? The question usually implies that the study of Religion and Philosophy does not help, or help much, with getting a job. That implication is false; the study of those subjects does help on the job market. But more importantly, the question is deeply misguided.
A major or minor should not help primarily with what we do. Rather, it should help primarily with what and who we are. It should help us understand what we are as persons, who we are as individuals, what our world is like, and what our place is in it. That is, it should help primarily with the life we are living. Our economic role is but one aspect of our lives and is subordinate to living a life. If we fail to understand our world, ourselves, and right living, then no degree of economic success will make for a good life. Unlike jobs, which are mostly defined for us, we have to define a life for ourselves. We must work out an understanding of what it is to be a person and to live a life. That is a difficult task, and we need help with it.
So, how can a major in Religion and Philosophy help in the task of defining and living a life ?
Philosophy studies our fundamental commitments about reality and knowledge. Religion studies the nature of the Holy, our relationship to the Holy, and the implication of that nature and relationship for our lives. Both are basic elements of human culture and of a liberal education. A liberal education is designed to help a person critically master her culture and critically assess her own identity. For a long time, this has been judged to be the highest kind of education and a birthright of all people. This sort of education helps a person find a life vocation or calling, as well as a career vocation or calling--not merely a trade.
Studying Religion and Philosophy teaches crucial abilities and values needed in life:
- developing a broad background of knowledge
- organizing ideas and issues
- summarizing complicated materials
- reducing complex data
- reasoning analytically and synthetically
- writing clearly
- formulating and defending a position
- speaking articulately
- assessing pros and cons
- solving problems
- listening objectively and being fair
- seeking and respecting the truth
- being intellectual patient, charitable, & disciplined
- producing informed tolerance
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