Nov
13

Yesterday’s Leftovers

By

Got a little busy yesterday and didn’t have time to cross-post this:

I resemble that remark

From Tuesday’s GOP debate, Marco Rubio:

For the life of me, I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.

Uh, that’s fewer philosophers, Marco. He’s wrong about those pay levels, of course, as philosophy major Matt Yglesias observes. But being factual wasn’t Rubio’s point anyway. Reality having a left-wing bias and all.

For the life of me, I don’t know why we have stigmatized liberal arts education. Or education in general.

Anyway, the philosophers are speaking out. The New York Times consulted Cheshire Calhoun, chairwoman of the American Philosophical Association and a philosophy professor at Arizona State University:

Ms. Calhoun notes that philosophy is not about toga-wearing thinkers who stroke big beards these days. Rather, she says, the degree denotes skills in critical thinking and writing that are valuable in a variety of fields that can pay extremely well.

While some universities have cut back or eliminated their philosophy departments, and the job prospects for academic philosophers are notoriously bad, Ms. Calhoun argues that students who pursue undergraduate philosophy degrees tend to have a leg up when applying to graduate school. The notion that philosophy means “pre-poverty” is a misnomer, she said.

Rubio might have considered that Carly Fiorina was standing just feet away. She holds a degree in medieval history and philosophy from Stanford.

At Salon, Avery Kolers, philosophy professor at the University of Louisville pushes back at the notion that market price is any measure of social worth:

… What kind of person would assume without justification or explanation that an endeavor (or a person’s) value, derives solely from the amount of money it can make?

A market economy is a tool for securing human welfare and promoting human freedom. It may or may not be effective at those things, but either way, that’s what it is: a tool. Sadly, the contemporary Republican Party has elevated that tool into a religion, bowing before it and disparaging those who don’t.

Ed Kilgore had a little fun with that as well, speaking of religion:

But here’s the thing: Rubio (or my recruiter, for that matter) could have made the exact same point using religious studies or theology as an example of a pointy-headed field of study we should not be subsidizing. Church gigs on average pay even more poorly than philosophy, I’m pretty sure, and why should taxpayers be encouraging private religious training?

I have a philosophy degree myself, as I’ve mentioned before:

I grew up thinking that education was its own reward. In college, I studied, philosophy, art, drama and science. Yeah, I waited tables and traveled for awhile. After college, I was appalled at the attitude of many customers. They’d ask if I was in college. No, I told them, I’d graduated. Next question: What was your major?

When I told them, their eyes went blank. “But what are you going to do with it,” they’d ask. You could see the gears going round in their heads. How did that (a philosophy degree) translate into *that* as they mentally rubbed their finger$$ together.

Then again, there were those two suited, young businessmen dining on their expense accounts one evening at Table 29.

“Tom, where have you been? Haven’t seen you here lately,” one asked as I approached their table.

I told them I had taken the summer off for a solo, cross-country trip. I’d driven out to Los Angeles, then up the coast and as far as Alaska. I had just come back to work.

They looked at each other and you could see it in their eyes: What the hell are we doing?

Life’s not always about size (of your paycheck).

Today I design factories for a living. When I’m finished doing my job, other people get jobs making products in this country.

Funny thing, this little video on our attitudes on cost and worth just came over the transom last night:

(h/t RJF)

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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