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Admit it – you’ve been silently judging philosophy majors. It’s not that you think philosophy is nonsense, you’ve just been convinced that studying philosophy is a waste of time.
But believe it or not, philosophy majors don’t just sit around and talk about big unanswerable questions like, “What’s the point?” While this might be an aspect of studying philosophy (philosophy nerds love those brain exercises), there is more to the discipline than that.
Any philosophy buff will tell you that a key part to the subject is reading. Once you actually pick up a work by Aristotle or by Hume, you realize that reading philosophy is not as mind-blowing or fun as you thought it would be.
Philosophers spend a great deal of time perfecting their arguments, which then become massive and dense texts. Learning how to successfully read through these historical works is beneficial in numerous ways. It teaches you how to read closely, how to write clearly and how to best lay out an argument.
These skills are important for practically any business, but here are a few in particular:
Teaching is a great career option for philosophy majors, especially because they spend most of their time learning how to solve diverse problems and communicate effectively. These are skills imperative for teachers to have. Additionally, the Top Universities website says the critical thinking skills you have honed while studying philosophy is a “good foundation for careers in teaching.”
If you’re interested in teaching, however, most countries require you get a professional teaching qualification. Many schools even prefer that teachers have their master’s or Ph.D. degrees. “If you’re hoping to teach at tertiary (university) level, you’ll face fierce competition for junior-level academic positions. However, philosophy graduates are often prime candidates for research careers in relevant fields,” Top University writes.
Philosophy majors are not only adept at critical thinking, they are also skilled in communicating and writing. These are all things you need to start a career in journalism. With a career in journalism, you can put your writing and analytical skills to work. International Student says, “Careers that require writers who can analyze, interpret and report important information are often available to philosophy majors.”
If you’re interested, your career options in this field range from writing for online information sites to editorials in newspapers. Although many journalism publications look for people who are experienced in that field, many other employers are looking for men and women who can offer new perspectives and different ways of thinking. (That’s where you can come in!)
As a lawyer, you are required to have a knowledge of ethics and the ability to reason, which philosophy can provide. International Student writes, “Law schools seek students with training in philosophy since they are looking for students with training in rigorous thought, argumentation and logic.”
Not only do law students need to be able to think clearly about the world, they also need to be able to write clearly and present arguments. After the hours you’ve spent laboring over the “tough questions,” this is something you’re already experienced in. If you need a little more encouragement, The College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland says that philosophy majors have one of the highest acceptance rates at law schools.
Counselors require excellent communication skills, self-awareness and a belief in a human’s ability to change. This can all be taught through the study of philosophy.
Additionally, you could consider going into the field of existential therapy. This field is relatively new, and it is rooted in – as the name implies – existentialism and existential theory. According to Psychology Today, existential psychotherapy is “an exceedingly practical, concrete, positive and flexible approach. At its best, existential psychotherapy squarely and soberly confronts the ‘ultimate concerns’ and sometimes tragic ‘existential facts of life’: death, finitude, fate, freedom, responsibility, loneliness, loss, suffering, meaninglessness [and] evil.”
Existential therapists seek to alleviate and comprehend “postmodern symptoms” such as anxiety, apathy, avoidance, shame and addiction. For more information about this field, visit Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D.’s article on Psychology Today.
Business can seem totally opposite to philosophy, but this thinking doesn’t acknowledge all the successful CEOs who started out as liberal arts majors. One of the women on this list is Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO and a 2016 Republican presidential candidate. In a speech about education policy she says, “While I joke that my medieval history and philosophy degree prepared me not for the job market, I must tell you it did prepare me for life.”
Philosophy encourages you to ask tough questions and this can give you a creative edge in business. The truth is, businesses are intrigued with philosophy majors because, as The College of Arts and Humanities from the University of Maryland says, being a philosophy major “shows you are intrigued by difficult and fundamental problems, that your interests are broad, that you have a good head and that you express yourself well.”
Who says philosophy degrees are useless? With your analytical, writing and problem-solving abilities, you’re ready to impress various employers out there!