Learn to think clearly.
In the 2013 Salon article, “Be employable, study philosophy,” Shannon Rupp writes, “…a smattering of undergrad philosophy classes taught me something applicable to any and every job: clarity of thought. Name me one aspect of your life that doesn’t benefit from being able to think something through clearly.” (The article was originally published in The Tyee.)
(Via the great page, “Philosophy: What Can It Do For You?” compiled by Tomás Bogardus.)
Here are four more articles that address possible practical benefits of studying philosophy.
“The Unexpected Way Philosophy Majors Are Changing The World Of Business” (Huff Post College, 2014). In this article, Carolyn Gregoire argues that “Philosophy and entrepreneurship are a surprisingly good fit.” “In fact,” she writes, “many leaders of the tech world—from LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman to Flickr founder Stewart Butterfield—say that studying philosophy was the secret to their success as digital entrepreneurs.”
“Philosophy is Back in Business” (by Dov Seidman, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of LRN; appeared in Business Week, January, 2010). Seidman claims that insights from philosophy are valuable in the business world, and argues in favor of hiring philosophy majors: “Forget economics. Philosophy offers a deeper, broader way of thinking to help guide companies through times made tougher by overspecialized experts.”
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I am Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Montclair State University (USA). My research centers on philosophy of art, philosophy of music, and phenomenology. My Ph.D. is from Columbia University; my B.A. from the University of Minnesota. I teach Philosophies of Art, Contemporary Continental Philosophy, Existentialism, Social & Political Philosophy, and Introduction to Philosophy.
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Occasionally I post links to news items, data, or discussions that illuminate practical reasons one might study—or major in—philosophy. This is salary survey data from PayScale Inc. (2008), which suggests that people with undergraduate degrees in philosophy fare quite well financially—especially in mid-career. The Wall Street Journal refers to this study:
Your parents might have worried when you chose Philosophy or International Relations as a major. But a year-long survey of 1.2 million people with only a bachelor’s degree by PayScale Inc. shows that graduates in these subjects earned 103.5% and 97.8% more, respectively, about 10 years post-commencement. Majors that didn’t show as much salary growth include Nursing and Information Technology.
There are some surprising numbers in this study; for example, the mid-career median salary for those with philosophy undergraduate degrees is $81,200; while it is $72,100 for those with undergraduate degrees in Business Management.
Referring to this and other data, a 2009 Forbes article entitled “The College Degrees With The Biggest Salaries,” reports,
For starting salaries, engineering and things like nursing are pretty strong,” says Dr. Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis at PayScale. “But the list reorders further into people’s careers. . . . If you looked at the pay of people 15 years out, philosophy is actually in the top 10%.”
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“On the Divide: Analytic and Continental Philosophy of Music,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 75, no. 1 (2017): 49–58
“From the Author’s Perspective: Groove: A Phenomenology of Rhythmic Nuance”
(a piece written especially for the American Society for Aesthetics Newsletter, Spring 2015)
Groove: A Phenomenology of Rhythmic Nuance (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014)
Key Terms in Philosophy of Art (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013)
“In Praise of Ambiguity: Musical Subtlety and Merleau-Ponty,” Contemporary Aesthetics 11 (2013)
“Philosophy of Music,” in The Grove Dictionary of American Music, second edition. Ed., Charles Hiroshi Garrett, (Oxford University Press, 2013). Also published online at Grove Music Online (Oxford Music Online, Oxford University Press)
“Continental Philosophy and Music,” in The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Music. Eds., Theodore Gracyk and Andrew Kania (Routledge, 2011)
“Musical Musical Nuance,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68 (2010): 1-10
“Musical Experience, Philosophical Perspectives,” in The Oxford Companion to Consciousness. Eds., Tim Bayne, Axel Cleeremans, and Patrick Wilken (Oxford University Press, 2009) Also published online at Oxford Reference