Why Study Religion, Philosophy and Ethics?

Philosophy seems more popular in Schools than ever. [As noted HERE by Nigel Warburton]

In Scotland, the Herald newspaper has considered this – causing a number of its online readers to comment HERE about the value of philosophy. The comments are worth a glance as they reveal something of the public attitude to philosophy.

I wanted to ask our students (and other readers) to comment as to:

  • Whether there was any value in studying philosophy (to both individuals and society in general)
  • Whether academic disciplines such as Philosophy and Religious Studies should have to demonstrate a ‘usefulness’ in order to be considered worthwhile
  • What reasons motivate individuals to study these subjects. [See HERE for previous posts on this topic]
  • Why has there been such a rise in the numbers studying Religious Studies and Philosophy (often including ethics) at AS/A2 (‘A’ level to older people like me) here in the UK?


"I drink, therefore I am" - Descartes says:

We live in a heightened society of religious consciousness, and the constant media coverage of Religion and Religious events (such as terrorism, wars, etc) means that people today want answers to religious questions today, and the ability to form their own opinions. In the quest for knowledge, Philosophy provides the foundations!! And there’s no exams in the first year, hurrah! 😀

Anonymous says:

we think more people are studying religion, philosophy and ethics at A level because there is so much about it in themedia and iteffects their everyday lives. young people take interest in the things which effect them most. Plus, in the West as people have become more ‘advanced’ some feel that they have lost touch with something an RPE could help them reconnect with wisdom and spirituality.

Anonymous says:

– With the rise in numbers studying philosophy and religion may be linked to the rise in religious belief and thinking, and also philosophy in modern culture. The A-Level is also more readily available, and more well-known.- with motivation, generally interest in the subject and disregard for high-powered jobs. – RPE studies is useful, as it enables people to make more sense of the world, and it overlaps into every aspect of life, particularly high-interest topics currently being discussed. Not teaching philosophy and religious studies would mean that many ideas and works will be forgotten, for example, if we ignored classic literature, then no one will have heard of Shakespeare!

"Immanuel Kant was a right pissant" says:

By studying philosophy it encourages questioning of our world, and an open-mindedness (is that a word?). One could say that some cultures refuse to teach Philosophy in fear of the rejection of traditional dogmatic religious beliefs, and so called fact, therefore maybe causing anarchy amongst the younger (and sometimes older) generations. The skills gained from Philosophy are transferable, for example, being able to critique someone’s argument constructively, and beimg able to form and sustain one’s own argument properly. Studying philosophy also creates a sense of self awareness, as when looking at the big questions within Philosophy, it is crucial to know yourself and your own beliefs.

Rachel First year in RPE!! says:

Why study this? I like it. It’s interesting. I’ve always been interested by the side of life that we hardly touch upon in day to day living. I just saw the video on Kante, and was confused. lol. I think that’s allowed though, as I only had my first lesson on him today. Anyway, I think we should study this because it’s different, and is a subject that can really allow others to open their eyes, including me. Lying is wrong says Kante, but I don’t agree in some circumstances, so what does that make me? Morally wrong, secretly cruel? Who knows? That’s the beauty of it.There are just so many questions, and never a straight answer. After studying Virtue Ethics a part of the afternoon, it has made me think I’m on this side of things. lol. Who knows, again? Well, I have only one thing left to say. I can’t wait for more, although by the end of lessons, my brain turns to goo. There’s just so much to learn!! I love it!!!!

Anonymous says:

I believe there is value in studying philosophy. Firstly, I for one enjoy studying the subject and that in itself is valuable. Secondly, it leads us to question the world around us and the way we live. Without such questioning many major changes that have occurred in society throughout history, would not have been possible – if no one had ever taken the time to think, no one would ever have seen things that were wrong, and so no one would have made changes.

Zara Collins says:

I think it is our duty as human beings to have an open mind in order for us to study and appreciate this beautiful and perfect world that we have been given. Whether it be by a God or through natures weird and wonderful ways. I find the unknown very interesting and i feel that you can only live a truely fulfilled life if you examine and understand the world as a whole instead of just focusing on all the small insignifcant matters of everyday life. Some people think studying RPE is a waste of time, however i feel like why study anything else?? If we didnt study this then no one would begin to understand different peoples points of view and if we cant study the world and the different people who live here then what is the point in us being here in the first place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.