Telling your relatives you’re majoring in philosophy is guaranteed to evoke responses such as “what a waste of your parents’ money” and “why don’t you do something practical.”
Studying philosophy has never been connected to getting a job, but has had plenty to do with changing the world. In Plato’s Dialogues, the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, has no discernible occupation, seeming to spend his days hanging out in the agora (the city center of Athens), the public baths and at various people’s houses while asking lots of questions and discussing justice, “the good,” love and the like. (Like all male Athenian citizens, Socrates did serve in the army and, according to reports, with valor.)
Studying philosophy teaches you to analyze arguments, identify logical fallacies and ask questions; to consider why what might seem to be true really is not and to be able to explain why.
Wouldn’t some people, and a lot of businesses, like it if we stopped asking these questions?
Photo of the Sather Gate at the University of California at Berkeley campus by maveric2003
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