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On Degrees in Philosophy

Q:Why should I avoid getting a college degree in philosophy?

A: There are four main considerations.

First, the Western university system was not developed to teach students how to make a living. It is not very good at that. The university system was established for individuals who did not have to worry about making a living and wanted to devote their liberal leisure time to the best pursuits possible. The West considers these pursuits to be the liberal arts, such as philosophy. The West developed the apprentice system for those wanting to learn a skill to make a living. Therefore, if you are pursuing a way to make a good living, a trade school or apprenticeship is a good choice. A bonus is that you can graduate with no debt, and you can make good money while you learn.

Second, colleges misunderstand many philosophies, such as Stoicism. They tell you what philosophers meant rather than letting primary texts speak for themselves. It develops your reasoning ability better to read the masters at your own pace and analyze what it means in your own mind.

Third, Epictetus specifically mentioned how some would brag about their academic credentials. He said that the whole point of Stoicism is what a person does in their life. Even today, the university system does not train a student to practice Virtue. For the most part they grade on how well a student can memorize information and methods. So, there is no connection with academic philosophy degrees and Virtue.

Fourth, the college system today does not take a stand regarding what is truth. The idea that every way is okay is ridiculous. For example, in the trades, every way to build or repair something is not equally valid. If an electrician wires a house one way it works fine for generations. If he wires it another way it burns down with the owners inside. It is similar with manufacturing a product, operating on a person, repairing a car, and on and on. But, for some reason, the current university system insists on teaching that, when it comes to the most important thing in your life (your happiness), every way of thinking and living is equally valid. This is a dangerous and damaging teaching, because it guarantees that the vast majority of graduates will live lives of quiet desperation.

If you love philosophy, but do not aspire to get a PhD in order to make a living teaching it, it is better to separate mentally your love for it from the practical needs in life and study philosophy individually.

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