Philosophy & World Religions

 

Why should I study Philosophy?

 

Philosophy means, literally, the love of wisdom.  The philosophy major teaches more than just content, it teaches how to think about all manner of issues: from spotting logical fallacies in a politician’s rhetoric to pondering life’s deepest questions.  Science and technology may offer us great power, but they don’t offer the wisdom of how to use that power.  How should we direct that power?  What does it mean to be human?  What does it take to be truly happy?  How should I live my life?  These questions, and more, are fundamental to philosophy.

 

Is a Philosophy Major Practical?

 

Something is practical and useful to the degree that it enhances our lives.  For this question, philosophy operates on many levels.  But the level most people have in mind when asking this question is whether it is practical for making a living, for having a career.  It often surprises people to find that philosophy majors are often at the top of their chosen fields.  This is because Philosophy majors develop valuable skills that help them to excel in just about any field that requires serious, careful, analytical thought. Particular technical training quickly becomes outdated; but thinking skills have enduring value. Employers in business and other fields repeatedly state that it is far easier to teach employees the content of the field than to teach them skills of thinking critically, presenting clear arguments, identifying essential points, and problem solving. They also often complain that their employees lack such skills.  More than half of all college graduates wind up working in specialized fields different from their undergraduate majors. Philosophy is the only major that is focused primarily on thinking skills, and hence, is valuable in a quickly changing job market. 

 

Specifically, the major in Philosophy develops and enhances the abilities to:

  • Express difficult ideas, in clear spoken and written language

  • Draw accurate conclusions from confusing data

  • Discern hidden relationships and connections

  • See and focus on the big picture

  • Articulate overlooked alternatives

  • Persuade people to take seriously unfamiliar views or novel opinions

  • Clarify purposes, principles and general objectives

Not many Philosophy majors go on to make a living as philosophers. They work in industry, government, and education. They become lawyers, doctors, administrators, teachers, diplomats, consultants, stockbrokers, bankers, managers, and business owners. They are accepted and respected in all professional schools and welcomed into management training programs.  Moreover, for students considering graduate school, philosophy majors consistently outscore almost any other major on standardized entrance exams—even those “majoring” in the subject being tested, outscoring business majors on the GMAT and all but Physics and Mathematics students on the LSAT. 

 

Studying Philosophy for its own sake:

We all need to make a living.  But is “living” just about income and career?  Many people get to the top of their fields and find their lives…empty.  This is often called the midlife crisis.  The study of philosophy is about the whole person: as physical, social, political, psychological, and spiritual beings.  The study of philosophy enriches our perspectives by introducing us to very different ways of looking at, and thinking about, the world and how we live in it. In studying Philosophy, we pursue wisdom, that knowledge which is directly concerned with the highest and most noble aspects of our existence. By studying philosophy, we hope to arrive at a greater awareness of the complexities of our existence, and at best a perfecting of our very humanity.

 

Recognize any of these names? What do these people have in common?

Harrison Ford, Martin Luther King, Carly Fiorina, Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, Iris Murdoch, Alex Trebeck, Philip Dick, Woody Allen, Stacy London, William Bennett, Steve Martin, George Soros, Pat Buchanan, David Duchovny, Mary Higgins Clark, David Lynch, George Stephanopoulos, Stephen Colbert

They all majored in philosophy.

 

What are some of the job titles held by students who majored in philosophy at UNI?

Professor of mathematics, nurse, owner and president of automobile dealerships, chaplain, college president, manager at John Deere, analyst for the US Senate, chief court officer, bank clerk, pastor, director of education at a private school, quality manager, administrator in Head Start Centers, high school science teacher, drummer, administrator at a health care agency, community college instructor, videographer, professor of humanities, youth minister, professor of plant physiology, executive director of a non-profit agency, farmer, police officer, professor of philosophy…

 

Of course, these jobs require additional training in technical skills and specialized knowledge. But these are easily gained by most philosophy majors.

 

Links:

"Careers and Philosoph"y

 “Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life And in Work”

New York Times, December 26, 1997

To Beat the Market, Hire a Philosopher”