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Three Reasons Philosophy Matters

First, the skills philosophy gives you will last a lifetime and will benefit you whatever you do. It is well documented (see some of the links on this department’s page) that philosophy majors have the critical and creative thinking skills that employers want. No matter what your profession, philosophical skills will help you understand the big picture and how to think creatively and innovatively. Our major is very flexible and you can pair it with almost any other major or minor in a four-year degree. Many of our majors or minors pair their philosophy major/minor with disciplines such as: Economics, Religion, Political Science, Management, Biology, and so on. Just take a look at some of our graduates. Also, here are some people who majored in philosophy: Bill Clinton, Thomas Jefferson, Jimi Hendrix, Phil Jackson, T.S. Eliot, Beverly McLachlin (chief justice of Canada), and Pope John Paul II. Whether you agree with the way these people have impacted culture, there’s no denying that their influence on life in our times has been profound. Philosophy can and does change the world. The only question is what role we are going to play.

Second, if philosophy doesn’t matter to you, it will matter to someone else (probably your boss). We have to remain courageous enough to change the movements of our time if necessary, or to challenge prevailing assumptions. This is as true in the work force as it is in politics or religion. The job philosophers have is to debate issues that are relevant to the knowledge we seek to have, and to bring that knowledge to matters that affect us.

Finally, and most importantly, philosophy matters because it is the way toward what ultimately matters to us anyway. We need food, and we like good food. We need rest, and we like comfort. But those things are for rejuvenation. They aren’t meaningful all by themselves. Eliminating poverty is not meaningful unless there is a human good of which it deprives people. Our highest human achievement cannot be fixing something that is bad but doing something positive that is good. We often hear that we can solve extreme poverty. We should. But if we do, what will we do then? We need a full vision of what it looks like for human beings to flourish and live meaningful lives, and developing that vision is a philosophical task.