Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why Philosophy?

In spite of being a prodigious computer geek in my youth, I had trouble sticking to a major in college, and I still wonder what I'd do differently if were starting afresh. Years after graduation, I developed a great interest in and passion for studying philosophy, but since then I've gotten plenty of shrugs from friends in response to my advocacy of the possibility of majoring in philosophy.

Leiter Reports pointed me to a nice post by a personal finance blogger who recently gave his answer to the question Why Major in Philosophy?


Vincent Scordo writes:

"I came across some old philosophy books in my study this morning and it got me thinking about the value of an undergraduate degree in philosophy. And I can already hear the jokes, so please keep them to yourself! ; - ) At first glance, a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy provides no real practical application in the real world. After all, you will not receive any specific training that can lead to a job, are required to read esoteric texts, and will never arrive at a 'right answer' during a final exam or short quiz. So, why on earth are US colleges and universities struggling to keep up with the demand from students wanting to both take courses and major in philosophy?

As an ex-Philosophy major, I can tell you that my degree is invaluable and I would certainly study the same subject if I had to start all over again (I would maybe throw in a degree in Economics as well). If we cut to the chase, a degree in philosophy provides the following benefits..."

His list of benefits and more: here


Back to me:

To many, philosophy sounds like the least practical thing one can do with one's college career, but even if career earning potential is a major consideration, a recent Wall Street Journal article indicates philosophy majors have even done pretty well financially:

"Your parents might have worried when you chose Philosophy or International Relations as a major. But a year-long survey of 1.2 million people with only a bachelor's degree by PayScale Inc. shows that graduates in these subjects earned 103.5% and 97.8% more, respectively, about 10 years post-commencement. Majors that didn't show as much salary growth include Nursing and Information Technology." (link)


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