Friday, March 8, 2013

Time magazine: "Who Needs Philosophy?"

Full title: Who Needs Philosophy? Colleges Defend the Humanities Despite High Costs, Dim Job Prospects

This has the ominous flavor of a Catch-22 situation.  The nation's intellectual state leaves much to be desired as it is, which fuels the fire for those wondering what the use of academic majors such as Philosophy is, which only further fuels the fire of anti-intellectual sentiment and helps to stigmatize "the humanities" among college students who are understandably seeking degrees that are both intellectually-enriching and marketable in the employment world.  And we get quotes like this from the Time article:
“We should all be blessed enough to pursue life’s passion, but not everybody is,” says Tom Snyder, president of Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, who says that the economy cannot support more art-history or philosophy majors.

And 'round and 'round goes the vicious circle.  The article itself doesn't even helpfully distinguish between Philosophy majors and "humanities" majors.  What we have here is a failure to differentiate.

That makes this quite relevant.  Besides the STEM, economics, and banking majors, what other major stands out here as a promising source of much-needed verbal talent (on top of solid quantitative aptitude) in the employment world?

And, ohhhhh yes, for the very answer sought in the Time article's title, let's not forget this.  It's almost like . . . all cultural roads lead to a certain author; there she already is, ready and waiting, to serve as an answer to just this very sort of question.  And how is it that, like, she was the first and only big-name thinker to pose that very question?  Why the fuck didn't some name-philosopher think to pose and broadcast that particular question (and the answer to it) before then - or, it would seem, since then?  Whatever else she said and did, she knew how to market ideas in a way few have done so successfully.  Something something integrating intellectual aptitude with market aptitude.

Another ultimate hypothetical (which might very well be a variant upon some of those already posed): If everyone adopted and practiced the principles of living that she advocated - the actual principles she advocated, that is, not the sloppy caricatures or malicious smears of them - just how awesome would the world in fact be?  Use your imagination and just try - I triple dog dare you - to think of some plausible way that "things would go wrong."  Integrate your imaginative thought-experiment with the issues raised here.  Enjoy.

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