Do you remember those “I’m a Mormon” videos?
You know, those videos of seemingly normal, average, people proclaiming their faith in the Church of Latter-Day Saints?
People like Brandon Flowers, lead singer of the rock band The Killers.
The point of the videos is to prove that there’s nothing wrong with being a Mormon.
I don’t know if the videos have improved the image of the Mormon Church, but if the ads have, there’s another institution that can benefit from a “we’re just like you” ad campaign.
Those institutions are institutions of higher learning.
There’s a lot of university education-bashing going on out there. Especially bashing those college majors that are usually described using the word “useless”.
English majors know what I’m talking about.
Ask around. It won’t take you too long to come up with a short list of “useless” majors. I mean we‘ve all heard the list. There’s English, ethnic studies, women’s studies, liberal arts, art history, communications, creative writing, fine arts…
Any major that has to do with studying or writing about the Renaissance.
Given America’s “if it feels good, do it” attitude, the proliferation of so-called “useless” majors on America‘s fine college campuses is not very surprising. I’m certain studying the major works of Conrad Faber von Kreuznach feels good to someone.
However, one major has the dubious reputation of being the most useless college degree of them all: philosophy.
What other profession would generate a meme like this?
Alright. English, Art … anything in the Humanities would.
Well, if you ask me (I know you did, I heard you), I think philosophy’s reputation is undeserved. And not just because I have a degree in philosophy.
Listen: I know that philosophy has gotten a pretty bad rap. Why wouldn’t it? Philosophers spend their time thinking. About things. And stuff.
Who isn’t capable of doing that? Is a degree really necessary to think about stuff? Or things?
But here’s the thing about philosophy. A career in professional philosophy probably won’t get your own reality TV show, but philosophy is not useless. What makes philosophy not useless has nothing to do with the fact that philosophers think about stuff and things. Philosophy is not useless because of what philosophers think about. Philosophers think about stuff and things like existence, reality, morality, and knowledge. Philosophers devote their time to asking life’s big questions.
You know, those big questions most people don’t think about until they’re either drunk, flat broke, or just had a near-death experience.
Or if you’re lucky, all three.
And at least some of the time philosophers come up with an answer or two.
Sometimes those philosophers write what they‘re thinking about.
Philosophers are generous like that.
I mean, take a look at this guy, you can tell he’s a giver!
Listen: don’t pay attention to what they naysayers say. They’re all STEM field people who wouldn’t know a deep thought if one appeared in front of ’em right alongside the Higgs particle.
We know deep down, despite anything he says, Lawrence Krauss knows philosophy is more than useful – it’s necessary.
In fact, philosophy is pretty awesome.
To make things easy for everyone, I’ve drawn up a little list of what makes philosophy awesome.
10 Awesome things about philosophy:
1. Since philosophy is the parent of several major disciplines (medicine, astronomy, psychology, sociology, political science, physics, theology, to name a few) you’ll know a little bit about everything.
2. Philosophy departments always have the coolest professors.
3. One word: hedonism.
4. You’ll know how to win an argument every time.
5. You can spend hours talking about the movie Road House and Keeping Up With the Kardashians, but you can do it all philosophical-like.
6. You’ll be unemployed but you’ll be really smart doing it.
7. If you studied philosophy, you’re in the same company as Harrison Ford, Steve Martin, Chris Hardwick, Susan Sarandon, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jay Leno, Wes Anderson, David Foster Wallace, Thomas Jefferson, Phil Jackson, John Elway, Neil Peart, Ethan Coen, Alex Trebek, David Duchovny, Bruce Lee, and Wallace Shawn. They all studied philosophy.
8. You can do more than paraphrase Nietzsche. You actually quote the text and understand what he means. Same goes for Ayn Rand.
9. You can totally school your family and friends on any movie’s philosophical undertones. You know The Matrix is really about Descartes’ evil genie and Nozick’s experience machine. You revel in the knowledge that you can find deeper philosophical meaning in just about any movie and/or episode of Star Trek.
10. Last and most importantly, when you study philosophy, you’ll learn how to think. Critical thinking becomes a way of life. You’ll know to never stop asking questions even if you know you’ll never find the answers.
And you gotta admit, the toga looks good when you’re pontificating about the meaning of your big toe.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY PHILOSOPHICAL