Theology and Philosophy
Theology and Philosophy staff are involved in teaching and research in the areas of ethics, philosophy, religious studies, and theology. The academic study of religion in DCU is pursued through the complementary disciplines of Theology and Religious Studies, offering students an understanding of the historical and contemporary significance of religious faith and religions. We welcome students from a variety of backgrounds, religious and secular.
Theology can be understood as ‘faith seeking understanding’ (fides quaerens intellectum), a search which takes place within a pluralist, multi-religious, secular, and interdisciplinary university context. We place an emphasis on ecumenical perspectives on theological themes and questions, on the study of sacred texts and languages, and on interreligious dialogue, particularly the dialogue between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We focus on a variety of ethical issues, offer service-learning opportunities, and foster a commitment to global and social justice. An education in the discipline of theology equips the student with analytical tools for reasoning, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary research. Combined with a study of religion, the courses cover a range of disciplines and provide students with key cultural, historical, ethical, and analytical insights.
Religious Studies, like Theology, is a way of studying and engaging with the phenomenon of religion. While Theology is usually done from a position of faith or as part of a wider faith community, Religious Studies aims to look at religions through their cultural manifestations and productions. The Religious Studies scholar approaches religions from the position of a methodological outsider, aiming ‘to produce secular knowledge about the sacred’ (Guy Stroumsa): being ‘religious’ is not a precondition for Religious Studies. Because religion is such a diverse and wide ranging phenomenon, Religious Studies is, of necessity, multi-disciplinary in its methodology. We employ data, methods and techniques from a range of academic discourses including, Archaeology, History, Theology, Philosophy, Anthropology, Sociology, Geography, Linguistics, Philology and Critical Theory.
Philosophy is the systematic investigation of some of the most fundamental issues in our lives – like the nature of reality, the extent and reliability of knowledge, the ways in which we should live our lives (individually and socially), or the status and significance of art and beauty. Studying philosophy necessarily involves engaging with the history of the topic, and much of the School’s focus is on some of the key thinkers and themes to have emerged in 2,500 years of Western thought. The School is also concerned with the direct application of philosophical principles, via a focus on specific ethical issues. Overall, this combination of theoretical rigour and practical engagement provides students with a rich and enabling experience of the shape and significance of Western thought.
Terry Eagleton warned against the ‘death of universities as centres of critique'1. The role of academia, he argues, should not be to service the status quo, but to ‘challenge it in the name of justice, tradition, imagination, human welfare, the free play of the mind or alternative visions of the future.’ The disciplines of Theology, Religious Studies, and Philosophy have a pivotal role to play here as central to these disciplines is the ‘critical reflection on human values and principles’ that Eagleton lauds as being central to everything that goes on in universities.
1Terry Eagleton, ‘The Death of Universities’ , The Guardian, 17 December 2012.