But a smattering of undergrad philosophy classes taught me something applicable to any and every job: clarity of thought. Name me one aspect of your life that doesn't benefit from being able to think something through clearly.I express some version of this idea on the first day of every class I teach.
Because it delivers real skills, philosophy doesn't go out of fashion the way the vague, trendy subjects do. The University of Windsor just announced it's closing its Centre for Studies in Social Justice, after 11 years. I suspect some of the problem there may be that no one can actually define "social justice." And the importance of defining terms to ensure we all mean the same thing when we're talking is one of those skills I picked up in philosophy.To be fair, it's at least kind of likely that nobody can define social justice because the nature of justice--social and otherwise--is a matter of ongoing philosophical controversy.
There's an amusing polemic against postmodernism, which leads into the following quip:
I've long thought that the debate about whether universities should be offering trades training or educating citizens is something of a red herring -- the discussion should be about whether to study knowledge or nonsense.The article concludes with some observations about the value of clear thinking.
Maybe I like this article only because it flatters my philosophical vanity. But I also like it because of the students I see some through my classes. A substantial proportion of my freshman-level students think that "if p then q" means "p is true, and so is q". Now, it seems to me that they can't really be that confused, because if they were they would be completely unable to reason about anything and would quickly die of starvation or accidental poisoning. But when they try to think carefully, this mistake consistently emerges. When they are trying to think carefully. I want to generate interest in the discipline of philosophy, and I want to generate interest in our major, sure. But if I can generate clear-thinking students who major in other things, I'll happily take it.