Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Degree in Philosophy?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Degree in Philosophy?

    I like philosophy, and I would like a degree, but I don't find it practical, economically speaking. I was wondering what you all thought on getting a philosophy degree. Worth it, not worth it?

  • #2
    If you truly want to learn, there are probably better things to do with your time than go to a liberal arts college. If you want to pursue some sort of career in philosophy, then that's a different story, but if it's just an interest I'd recommend that you just intensify your personal learning. There's an astonishing range of resources available online if you're willing to search for it and to spend a bit of money (not as much as college tuition, though). I'm extremely passionate about history, and I produce a history podcast, but I'm working towards being a managerial accountant. Work so you can have the money to do what you love. Don't blow a degree on the humanities. Study them, but don't make that your degree.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think it was worth it and have absolutely no regrets. But I was raised in a home where the expectation was to go to college. I have serious doubts that I would go back to college now (at 30).

      It depends on what you want. In my opinion, a lot of what you pay for in college is having 2-4 years of uninterrupted focus on a subject, and immediate access to experts and interested peers. If you are going to work 50 hours a week while in school, it's probably not worth it. Especially since most professors are happy to converse with interested non-students.

      Similarly, much of the value of a college education comes from the mental discipline you develop and the analytical/soft skills you learn, like clarity of speech and thought. If these are things you have or can hone on your own, it's really hard to justify spending 120,000 dollars on a degree (assuming you're American. If you're not and can get cheap, high quality education, then go for it.)

      I'd say don't do it just for the degree. It won't directly help you get a job. But it will give you the skills to be competent for a lot of jobs you won't be considered for, haha. And in any corporate environment being able to clearly articulate abstract ideas will be a huge help and make you valued employee once you are hired.

      Comment


      • #4
        In terms of lifetime earnings, philosophy majors do surprisingly well compared to other humanities. But most of that is, surely, a selection effect, owing to the sorts of people who tend to study philosophy. (It's a popular major for students planning to go to law school, and philosophy students generally do well on standardized tests and are naturally analytical thinkers.) So studying philosophy probably is not what causes philosophy majors to do better than their humanities peers.

        I would recommend studying something else and doing philosophy on the side. You could either double major or just take a lot of your extra classes in philosophy, as long as you select a school that has somewhat relaxed distribution requirements, and as long as your primary field of study does not take up all of your time. You can also read philosophy on your own.

        That is what I did as an undergrad. I studied math and computer science but took more than a major's worth of philosophy courses.

        Philosophy graduate school is another story. It is oversaturated; there are a lot more graduate students finishing than there are philosophy jobs, and lots of philosophy jobs are not very good. If you want to go to graduate school in philosophy, you should be fairly certain of your philosophical ability and also willing to accept non-ideal positions or even leave the academy (after committing 6 years of your life to it, delaying your earnings and retirement savings, etc.) if things don't work out. Even in a good case philosophy graduate school is a big risk.
        Last edited by Greg; 06-14-2019, 03:29 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Greg View Post
          Philosophy graduate school is another story. It is oversaturated; there are a lot more graduate students finishing than there are philosophy jobs, and lots of philosophy jobs are not very good. If you want to go to graduate school in philosophy, you should be fairly certain of your philosophical ability and also willing to accept non-ideal positions or even leave the academy (after committing 6 years of your life to it, delaying your earnings and retirement savings, etc.) if things don't work out. Even in a good case philosophy graduate school is a big risk.
          This was true in 93! The idea that tenured positions will be replaced with more tenured positions was rampant. I had my baby toe* in the door at Northwestern. Arthur Fine was teaching there at the time. To his everlasting credit, David Hull had the decency to break this news. "I hope you like philosophy, because there's no jobs. We're having trouble finding interviews for our grads."

          *The toenail of my baby toe, to be exact.

          Comment


          • #6
            And it's even worse today! The problem is just that departments produce too many PhDs. They cannot all get nice tenure-track research positions. Throw in the fact that there are schools, even liberal arts colleges, eliminating philosophy and other humanities programs, and it doesn't look good.

            If you go to one of the tippity top philosophy programs (NYU, Rutgers, Princeton), you will very likely get a good job. If you go to another top school, it is not impossible, but much harder, and the possibility that you do not find anything other than adjunct work is quite real.

            Comment


            • #7
              I suppose it depends on what you mean by worth it. If your goal is just to learn more philosophy, there's always something to be said for the support and systematic approach of formal tuition, but I don't think that it's probably worth the time and bother. As others have said, if you are motivated, you can learn philosophy on your own.

              If you wish to be a professional philosopher you will need a Ph.D in philosophy. There are certainly people who won't respect an amateur anywhere near as much as a professional, even if the former shows great knowledge and expertise. I recall one of my philosophy lecturers said just about that - amateurs discussing philosophical issues aren't really doing philosophy. It was somewhat ironic as he was, despite his philosophy Ph.D, pretty much a glorified cognitive scientist, who didn't know what nominalism was (to be fair, English wasn't his first language) and replaced universals in our metaphysics course with two weeks on time travel. Obviously, you don't have to think drunken philosophical babble is profound to think there's sometimes far too much specialisation and idolatry of qualifications in today's academia. But it's still true there will be people who will always look down their nose at amateurs.

              Do you already have undergraduate postgraduate qualifications? Perhaps you could go straight to a Ph.D. I was told that I could do this, and I am considering it, especially as Ph.Ds are free in Australia. I have to pay for undergrad (although not upfront - and the debts aren't real debts - they never get called in. You just have your salary garnished when you make about median wage or more), so I've just taken a few courses to brush up, on top of my private study. I need now need to come up with a thesis!
              Last edited by Jeremy Taylor; 06-15-2019, 05:10 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                I studied philosophy in college. It wasn't presented very well. There was one course on the ancient and medieval philosophers, and we quickly went over them, giving each a rather cursory reading. Post-enlightenment philosophers were more carefully read at my university. I really think a lot of philosophical training can be done on one's own time through careful reading and an earnest desire for truth.

                A lot of the great philosophical texts are in the public domain and available online. Archive.org is a great place to start. I guess one benefit of a degree is that you get a pretty well-structured reading list. But just search up some university syllabi online, you can usually find out what a standard college course requires you to read.

                Think about the allocated cost of a philosophy degree. You could be looking at $30k or more. I don't think that's a particularly fair trade for four years of reading lists and class discussions. You literally can do most of this on your own free of charge.
                Last edited by RomanJoe; 06-16-2019, 02:50 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  While a motivated and disciplined person can imbibe a lot of philosophy through reading, study and thinking, plus online interactions, I think academic study has four advantages right off the bat: 1) training from people who are trained, so that you get situated in some tradition, even if an eclectic one, rather than work from scratch; 2) surrounded by bright and usually equally motivated learners, so that you learn from dialogue; 3) someone to make you write and then to critique your writing (not easy to learn how to write a good philosophy paper); 4) access to books and electronic databases that you may not get on your own.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If you do decide to go into philosophy, post something before you decide where. The faculty you study under makes a much bigger difference in philosophy than (say) science or math. (Unless you're from some kind of mathematics background (a private school, a good undergraduate program, mathletics, etc.), I'm inclined to recommend hardnosed analytic faculties. (New philosophy students need to be beaten fairly hard with the logic and clarity stick.))

                    Comment

                    Working...
                    X