ShareThis Page
News Columnists

Finally, philosophy majors find a job for them

| Wednesday, April 7, 2004

At last, hope for us philosophers.

In "Lost in Translation," Scarlett Johansson mentions to Bill Murray that she got her degree in philosophy.

His reply is something like, "Oh, yeah, there's a lot of money in that racket."

Most of us ex-philosophy majors only belatedly realized that. If philosophy is the path to enlightenment, it is also the HOV lane to unemployment.

After my poor parents spent a fortune on my education, I began looking in the want ads under "p" for philosophers -- only to find the "nothing" we had talked about in "Introduction to Existentialism."

I thought philosophy was practical because it teaches you how to think. But when I stumbled out into the real world, I discovered thinking is about as lucrative as being the fine arts consultant to "The Howard Stern Show."

Eventually I got into journalism, which itself looks lucrative only if you've been looking for a job in philosophy. They are similar in that journalism and philosophy both seek the truth -- the difference being that journalism will settle for the facts, or even a good story if the deadline is coming up fast.

Anyway, it turns out that soon there might be a way to make a living from the wisdom of the ages.

According to The New York Times Magazine, "philosophical counseling" uses the great thinkers' insights to help people straighten out their lives.

The key part is that philosophical counseling might soon be approved by health insurance plans. In other words -- only in America, folks! -- there's finally a way to use Plato and Aristotle to turn a buck.

Think of how this could help people -- especially philosophy majors. You've seen them. They're the people who are so busy brooding on the Great Questions they forget to give you the croissant you ordered with your double latte. And then say, "Do 'you' really 'want' this 'croissant'• And what do we mean when we say 'latte'• And ... ."

If some of these lost souls are certified as philosophical counselors, they will stop being a drag on the economy, and their parents can stop fretting over how much they spent on tuition.

There are only two problems. The first is what we will do when low-cost mystics from India begin offering inexpensive insights from the Upanishads via an 800 number.

And, second, what are we going to do with the art history majors?

Jim Tynen can be reached at jtynen@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me