By Dr. Steven Wyre | 05/06/2021
Most people who reveal they are seeking a degree in philosophy often hear the same question: “Why?” Such a response is expected, as many people have inaccurate, unrealistic perspectives of what it means to be a philosopher or what value there is in philosophical pondering.
In reality, there are many reasons our students give for wanting to study philosophy, ranging from wanting to do well on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) in preparation for law school to personal enlightenment. But what can anyone really do with a philosophy degree?
A Philosophy Degree Is Useful for Developing Critical Thinking, Analytical Skills and Communication Skills
Technology entrepreneur Mark Cuban recently claimed, “In 10 years, a liberal arts degree in philosophy will be worth more than a traditional programming degree.” His claim is predicated on the advances he assumes will be coming to artificial intelligence.
While the truth of Cuban’s claim remains to be seen, there are few jobs that cannot be automated in some way. Even journalism may go the way of manual typewriters due to artificial intelligence, but this change is debatable.
Getting a degree in philosophy may be a great form of self-preservation. The idea that philosophers just want to sit around coffee houses and have esoteric discussions is antiquated, and the reality is that philosophy majors are prized for their critical thinking and analytical skills.
Philosophy majors also develop superior communication skills; they are capable of taking complex topics and breaking them down to explainable parts. Trade-schools.net notes that oral and written communication skills are useful in the workplace and lists 24 jobs to which the skills learned from a philosophy degree would be applicable.
Modifications to the Philosophy Degree
In 2021, some changes were made to our B.A. in philosophy to further improve its quality. For instance, several courses were added to better align with the standard courses offered at other schools for a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, including “Metaphysics and Epistemology” (PHIL 405), “Analytic Philosophy” (PHIL 417) and “Bioethics” (PHIL 340).
Our philosophy degree looks at recent philosophy from both the Analytic and Continental traditions, which is unusual for most degree programs in this field. Students are able to learn about legendary philosophers from the Analytic tradition like Russell, Anscombe, and Searle as well as Heidegger, Hegel, Gadamer, and Foucault.
In terms of covering the history of philosophy, students cover every era in Western philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the current day and explore diverse areas such as experimental philosophy and neuroexistentialism. The philosophy courses are designed to prepare any student to look at any topic analytically and carefully in order to not only gain a better understanding of self, but to better function in our complex and fast-evolving society.
Philosophy Also Helps with the Development of Self-Awareness
It is true that philosophy majors are able to accept ambiguity as well as engage in occasional navel-gazing. But in a time of much stress and unanswered questions about society’s future, can developing one’s self-awareness be a terrible thing?
So the next time someone says that he or she is working on a philosophy degree, maybe the best recourse should be to congratulate that person on making an excellent choice.