What do you want to do with Philosophy?

In the year 1995

Question: What do you study? 

Me: Law.

Reaction: Wow!

In the year 2012

Question: What do you study? 

Me: Philosophy.

Reaction: ???

When I studied law more than a decade ago, some of my high school classmates were jealous, the girls admired me and my parents were happy not to question what I was doing during these four years at university. It was largely unwarranted awe and admiration because law is not a particularly hard subject to study, it just requires a lot of reading, some logical thinking and writing skills. I still don’t know why so many fellow students dropped out (about half of them) or failed the bar exam (about a third of the remaining).

“But what shall we do with this philosophy?”

Wherever I went and declared that I studied law, the reaction was “Wow!”

Now, that I study philosophy, the reaction is a totally different one. Often I can see that the questioner regrets posing the question because he or she doesn’t know how to continue the conversation. I can virtually see the question marks in their eyes.

But sooner or later somebody will ask “And what do you want to do with that when you’re finished?” Notwithstanding my disdain for people who believe that philosophy is something that can be or even has to be “finished”, I could come up with some “sensible” or widely accepted replies:

  • I will open a philosophy practice and take my clients for a walk through the forest while I will talk to them about philosophical and ethical questions.
  • I will write a doctoral thesis about a subject that covers both philosophy and law, thus combining the two subjects I studied so far.
  • I will specialize in the philosophy of war and work as an advisor to the military.
  • I will become a journalist and enlighten you with my weekly column.
  • I will teach philosophy of law.
  • I will write a book about environmental philosophy.
  • I will become the official philosopher of a municipality or a country.
  • I will specialise on philosophy and economics and find a job with a corporation.

You see, I can think of some possible way to make a living with philosophy. But the truth is, I don’t want to. Because in all honesty,

  • I mainly study philosophy because I enjoy it.
To me, that’s the point of studying: education for the sole purpose of knowing and understanding more than I knew or understood before.

“To you it may look pointless, but I enjoy it.”

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Education, Life, Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to What do you want to do with Philosophy?

  1. Robert Spiegel says:

    Here’s another possible way to justify your education: introduce German-style justice to the U.S., which seems sorely in need of it:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/06/what-america-can-learn-from-germanys-justice-system/258208/

  2. John Erickson says:

    Hey, any time you want to discuss (or debate) philosophy relating to war, I’m up for it. That actually sounds incredibly cool – and I never studied philosophy! (I have to admit having studied military history and technology, especially WW2, far more than ANYONE should! :D )

  3. JoV says:

    Good for you Andreas. A lot of talented people in their field doesn’t necessarily has one dimensional interest. I think great things are created when two unrelated (or seemingly unrelated) disciplines comes together. All the very best.

  4. Natalia says:

    Hallo Andreas.
    Grüße aus Wiesbaden.

  5. Janus says:

    Oh if I told you the amount of bull&hit I’ve heard regarding philosophy…you’d be way more horrified!!!! Those people shouldn’t even THINK those thoughts, let alone voice them – and worse: voice them IN PUBLIC! :P And I have to say…I was very much relieved to read the end of your post, because when I read “work as an advisor to the military” and “an advisor to a member of parliament or a governmental body” all that crossed my mind was “oh no oh no he can’t do that, we’re gonna lose him, he’s going to the dark side of the force!!!!” :P

  6. sarahkotyk says:

    Hey! I saw you on some other site , it said you could answer questions about philosophy and economics. 0____o

    I’m really , really stuck in a rut at the moment to the point of despair because I haven’t met anyone who could answer my questions about philosophy and economics. :C

    You seem like a friendly person so I was going to ask you these questions ( don’t be afraid :D )

    My problem is that I want to become an individual investor in the future but I don’t want to study regular economics* because it has so many disadvantages , all which led to the financial crisis. I’m a more fundamental thinker :d and I want to get an idea of how to gain from the markets by analyzing root issues , so I was thinking of doing a degree in the philosophy of economics. Since philosophy is also a study of deep issues.

    But I’m still instilled with a lot of doubt. :(

    So I need guidance from you! I only have a few questions for you so.. I hope you do your best and good luck!

    -do you feel as if you have a general sense of direction in terms of what to do to take advantage of the markets after you have studied the philosophy of economics?

    -Do you regret studying the philosophy of economics? If so what would you have studied instead?

    -What skills have you acquired after completing it?

    -What other knowledge do you have that would be important for me to acknowledge in my context?

    Thanks alot buddy! If you answered them , then you helped me with finding direction with my education! Yay! :}

    * Oh… yadda yadaa , I know that you don’t need any formal qualifications to become an individual investor but I prefer to be “armed with knowledge” ( yeah that sounded cheesy ) before I try to invest in the markets.

  7. keepntch says:

    I admit that my first thought was, “wonder what he is going to do with that”, but then I have followed along on your travels and travails for a while. I think I knew that you weren’t looking for a white collar corner to moulder away in, that you were doing just fine with “the law” job, and that you are nurtured by “the roads less traveled”. It just makes sense that you would want to take philosophy along with you on those jaunts.

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