After switching my majors at least five times, I finished with a BA in Philosophy in 2007. Although initially afraid of the job prospects, I don’t regret my choice for a moment. Here then are seven reasons you should major in Philosophy:
- Dr. Frankenstein was a philosopher. Yes he was also not real, but this illustrates a key facet of philosophy: it is the fountain from which sprang Biology, Math, Chemistry, Physics, and Psychology, among others; the ability to learn these disciplines, beyond rote memorization, is fundamental to philosophy.
- Philosophers make more money than average, according to Payscale.com. Among graduates who don’t pursue a higher degree (and many philosophers do), Philosophers make more than most other liberal arts majors, including English and History. The lower number, relative to more technical degrees, is indicative of the additional training that may be required for philosophy students, and the higher variance in ability among liberal arts students (as opposed to technical majors.)
- You plan to go to law school. Perhaps because philosophy majors don’t make a lot of money initially, they tend to head to more practical programs like law. Philosophy is an ideal preparation for law school, because it requires dense reading, dense writing, logical analysis, and the desire to argue every minute detail.
- You enjoy business/entrepreneurship. General business requires both the ability to logically analyze, and the creativity to guess the future. Because Philosophy mixes the symbolic logic with the big questions, philosophers are better prepared to succeed in business than MBAs.
- You plan to learn your whole life. Philosopher, literally translated, means “lover of wisdom”. Do you love wisdom? If so, you will probably spend your spare time reading, long after you get your degree. Philosophy teaches you to read difficult materials fast, break down the arguments, and find the assumptions. The knowledge you get from a technical degree can be learned on your own.
- You enjoy Philosophy. Philosophy often requires fewer classes than science oriented majors, but these classes can be every bit as rigorous. If you are lazy you can get through a philosophy degree without a lot of effort (there are plenty of classes not requiring intense analysis.) If, however, you enjoy the challenges, philosophy offers a lot of high level, abstract material.
- You want your kids to grow up curious. Faced with the choices of a computer science degree and a philosophy degree, I chose philosophy. Why? I thought about the day when my kids would ask “What did you major in?” and I smiled when I thought about explaining philosophy to them.