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The Practicality of Philosophy

It is certainly practical for students to use their time in college preparing to secure a good job upon graduation. Indeed, such reasoning informed my own decision to major in electrical engineering. However, I am no longer an engineer. I am a philosophy professor. And, at some point I’ll probably be something completely different. That will make me average, for transitioning through multiple careers is becoming the norm.

But how does one prepare for unplanned future careers?

It seems practical to acquire generally applicable and widely transferable skills, such as the ability to reason logically, to make incisive distinctions, and to communicate complex ideas clearly and persuasively both orally and in writing. Guess what! Those are philosophy’s strong suits. And various graduate school entrance exams confirm that, indeed, philosophy teaches these skills best. (Philosophy topped the verbal and the analytical writing sections of GRE in 2013, again.)

So, a very practical strategy may be to pair a specific career oriented major with philosophy.

Further, there is more to life than making a living. And, the study of philosophy has long been recognized as effective method for enriching one’s intellectual life. That is pretty important. In this light, it seems that studying philosophy may not only be practical, but wise.

Kurtis Hagen
Former Chair, Philosophy Department


Contact Information

For more information about the philosophy program at SUNY Plattsburgh please contact

Beth Dixon, Chair
Office: Champlain Valley Hall 306
Phone: (518) 564-2836
Email: [email protected]