Life After Philosophy
Here are a few of the things people do with philosophy:
LAW Many people majoring in philosophy go on
to study law. Philosophy prepares students for law well because
it trains us to think with conceptual precision, to write carefully
and argue cogently, and to speak with conviction and clarity.
JOURNALISM An open democratic society depends
on its journalists to ‘tell it like it is’, to ask
tough questions, point out hypocrisy, dig up buried truths, rattle
our consciences, wake us up, and inform us. Philosophy trains students
to write clearly and carefully about matters of the utmost importance
to human lives.
BUSINESS These days, no one gets a job and keeps
it for life. Flexibility and innovation are the name of the game
in today’s economy. And philosophy’s focus on critical
thinking and the questioning of assumptions provides students
with invaluable practice in the kind of ‘thinking outside
of the box’ that is essential in today’s business
PARENTING We don’t usually think of parenting
as a career. But perhaps we should. And as Sarah Ruddick points
out in her book Maternal Thinking, parenting well requires
a lot of thought! Philosophy teaches us to think clearly about
what matters most and to communicate passionately but respectfully.
Surely these are skills parents need more than anyone else!
TEACHING Teachers must begin by showing kids
that the world is something to marvel at! It is a miraculous,
wondrous, fabulously interesting place, well worth learning to
know. Philosophy, perhaps more than any other discipline, teaches
us to wonder and marvel, to be surprised and excited, to be curious.
Teachers who learn this can infect their students with a love
MEDICINE Perhaps the most morally challenging
area of modern life is found in the medical profession. Doctors,
nurses, and attendants face moral questions every day. Should
sick people have access to drugs that will end their lives? Should
heroic measures be taken to save desperately ill or deformed
newborns with little hope of long term survival? Should the poor
be denied medical care? Should doctors be permitted to clone
human beings? These questions, and many others, are discussed
explicitly by philosophers exploring medical ethics.
PSYCHOLOGY While studying psychology is indispensable
to anyone wanting to be a psychotherapist, philosophy can be
a great help too. Philosophy helps us to understand how the mind
works, how people think, common mistakes we make, moral issues,
religious concerns, all of which figure prominently in therapy.
ACTIVISM Surely the world is in some serious
need of fixing. Activists dedicate their lives to pushing the
world to change for the better. Many philosophers end up being
activists because their studies show them where the problems
are and that we’re all collectively responsible for the
conditions under which we live.
MINISTRY Some philosophy majors come to philosophy
through an interest in religion. And though philosophers often
challenge religion, many people come away from philosophy having
had their faith strengthened. The ability to face challenges
to faith, to think honestly and openly about such challenges,
are essential to those pursuing the ministry.