Yes, just what the heck can you do with a philosophy degree? A perennial question of potential philosophy majors, holders of a bachelors, and those pursuing graduate work. In fact, according to Google, this question, word for word, is asked 2400 times a month. That’s a lot! I was asked it so many times that I developed a knee-jerk response to it that would get a chuckle and dismiss the question, side stepping my obligation to give it a meaningful answer the way a fat-man sidesteps the salad bar for the dessert buffet: “Oh, you know, I’m qualified to ask the deep questions in life, like 'Paper or Plastic?' or 'you want fries with that?.'" This was foolish of me, but I didn’t know what else to say.
But really, the question should be, what can’t you do with a philosophy degree? And to answer that question, let me first digress to the point I’ve made to so many undergrads with only one major: the wisest coupling you can undertake is philosophy and _______, where “_______” is whatever other major they’re thinking of. Philosophy sharpens the mind, the wit, the intellect; it makes you better at whatever else you do.
As a “stand alone” degree, it’s pretty valuable. After all, the most valuable things are valuable in their own right and for nothing else, right? Okay, not always the most consoling thought, thanks Aristotle. However, the point remains that, if you succeed or did succeed as a philosophy major, then you’re trained to delve deeply into matters your peers cannot fathom. Of course, if you are or were smart enough to couple it with another degree, then you will stand out leagues ahead of most of your peers (assuming you can avoid becoming the smug and pretentious kind of philosophy major common in some larger institutions (and generally avoid nihilism, to)).
See, there are the “given” fields, like grift, fraud, and white-collar crime...er...I mean law, politics, and academia in general, where philosophy majors do well generally. But a good philosophical steeping will make you a better chemist, or artist; a better engineer, or teacher; a better psychologist, or sociologist; a better historian, or a better farmer (and, as you undoubtedly know, Socrates thinks that’s where we all out to be – out farming). And, at the end of the proverbial day, even if you’re unemployed, surely you’ll appreciate your situation better than most, right? Like a sentient dish-rag sublimely aware that it exists (“cogito!”) amidst all the spiritless dish-rags. That’s worth something, right?
Okay, I kid. Sort of. But here’s a thought. You’re poised to dominate any field you try. Your degree makes you better at business than many business majors. Managerial skills you can learn; critical thinking however cannot be taught very easily. That’s what I did. I started my own business, online, and it’s paying the bills to this day. Invent something. Build something. Start something. You’re uniquely adept to do these tasks, oh philosophy major. Just get out there and do it.
(Re-posted with permission from: What Can I Do With A Philosophy Degree?