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Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™

CAREER: Can Majoring in Philosophy Lead to a Career?
Letter #: 397626
Category: Career

Original Letter

I have a pretty good grasp on what philosophy is, but how far would studying the subject take me in college. I'm interested in studying the subject and become a philosopher perhaps. But how is a career as a philosopher? Will studying philosophy will me choosing other goals or careers revolving around that subject? I like words, or the 'deep' stuff, and I have a rather open mind and I like to think I see things differently compared to other people; different view points on a situation or how things work. If I may ask, what has studying philosophy, or becoming a philosopher, done for you?

Elder Response

Thanks for your questions. These would be the questions, once upon a time, I should have asked but did not. That you are actively exploring what the study of philosophy entails likely will inform the decisions you will make about life, school and work. 

Indulge me for a paragraph about my life because I think it is relevant to your questions. I was an English major in college because I liked to read. Maybe not the strongest rationale for a major. I thought I might like to teach so I ended up with a Ph.D. I did not think about the terrible job market for teachers or how would people with English degrees compete for non-teaching jobs. Finally realizing that for me there was no real no future in English, I went back to school to get an MBA. Upon completion of that degree, I got a job and then had a satisfying career. What made the career so satisfying was that the study of English and the writing and speaking that went with it were essential to how I did my jobs.

I realized that what the study of English taught me was how to think and how to analyze and then how to communicate the results of that analysis. I think something similar could be the result of your study of philosophy. What I would ask you to consider is how you might combine your interests with other fields of study that might produce satisfying opportunities far earlier than I had them. As you are no doubt aware, the study of philosophy includes rigorous logic, the ability to understand complex views, and how language shapes the understanding of those views. Those acquired skills derived from studying philosophy will be valuable for how you get through the day as well as how you do whatever work you choose to do. Be open to what a liberal education and a job market that looks for the best thinkers can offer you.

Your career might not end up being in philosophy, but you will approach most of what you do in life with the perspective of philosophy. 

Josh, I wish you well on your journey!

Best Regards,



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