The University of Waikato - Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato
Faculity of Arts and Social Sciences
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Welcome to Philosophy and Religious Studies

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy examines the most general and fundamental problems that confront us in our attempt to understand reality; problems concerning human nature itself, as well as the physical and social world we inhabit. Examples include:

What is truth? Is it possible to have knowledge of the world?
What is reality, and are there limits to our knowledge of it?
What is the mind? What is consciousness?
What is good? Why should I be moral?
Does God exist?
What is art?

Studying these questions is both fascinating and an excellent means of intellectual training and development. By examining these difficult abstract questions a student of philosophy learns to think clearly and systematically, argue vigorously and question deeply-held assumptions.

What is Religious Studies?

Religion is a universal phenomenon, although expressed in many and varied forms. Indeed, it is arguably the case that religion has been a vital and pervasive feature throughout the entire course of human history. As a university discipline the emphasis of Religious Studies is on the study of religion as human phenomena. It sets out to examine the religious dimension of human existence in all its diversity objectively, systematically, and yet sympathetically. Most people have experienced, to a greater or lesser degree, the influence of religious thinking, religious practices, and religious institutions. In the contemporary world religion continues to be a significant, if not major factor, in the shaping of people's lives and the determining of political and social outcomes. To study religion is to facilitate a broader understanding of human history and a deeper understanding of human life. The appropriate context for the study of religion is that of critical empathy: neither seeking to destroy nor promote, but rather to describe, analyse and evaluate and, hopefully, arrive at a position of informed understanding.


Our Taught Subjects

Ethics, Philosophy, Religious Studies


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Tel: +64 7 838 4080
or 0800 800 145 (within NZ)
Fax: +64 7 838 4636
Email: wfass@waikato.ac.nz

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