Why Philosophy? Money. Power. Virtue.

Really? Study philosophy for money? Well, yes. Learning to think pays. Turns out that philosophy majors are paid over $80,000 as the median starting salary. Ten years out they earn incomes comparable to engineering and finance. They fare better than accounting and all humanities majors. This is according to data reported in none other than business-friendly Wall Street Journal.

But let's not be too crass; cold hard cash is not the only or even the best reason to learn how to think. There's also: power. Philosophy makes you way smarter, better able to analyze, interpret, understand, re-frame, re-think, criticize, construct, create, and argue. And it turns out all the hard thinking about big ideas and classic texts, done with analytical clarity and rigor, makes you more skilled, more effectual at other things you might wish to do in life. If power is an all-purpose means of getting what you want, doing philosophy makes you powerful.

The budding philosopher can even become dangerous (to the point where irritated friends or family might wonder why a less empowering major wasn’t chosen, even if it does earn less money). Fortunately, though, in time, the study of philosophy also cultivates virtue. It builds intellectual character, virtues of intellectual curiosity, humility, tenacity, and integrity. These are the four Anteater Virtues. Under the guidance of Philosophy Professor Duncan Pritchard, they are now being placed at the heart of the UC Irvine curriculum. And they come in spades when you study philosophy!

Professor Aaron James surfing

Aaron James: Philosophy Chair
Professor and Department Chair, Aaron James, works in ethics and political philosophy.  Along with academic publication he writes books for a broad audience (e.g., Assholes, Surfing with Sartre, Money from Nothing).