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You might be a Philosophy major if ….

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Old Main, USU


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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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… you get impatient in your other classes when they seem to spend all their time on merely empirical details.

… you lose an hour trying to figure out why “used to” makes sense in the sentence “I used to do that, but don’t anymore.”

… you find yourself not reading your assigned philosophy texts because you’re too busy reading other philosophical works.

… you write Socratic dialogues on the nature of the substance found in a Taco Time burrito.

… you search YouTube for videos on Leibniz’s Monadology.

… you pause when asked “How’s it going?” because you’re not sure what “it” refers to.

(Any others?)



  1. …..if you question your spouse’s sense when they say “I love you more than anything on earth.”

    …..if you you hear your spouse say “I can’t live without you” and wonder if they mean ‘live’ and ‘you’ as either perception or substance or if their self is properly defined post god’s death.


  2. …..if your neighbors invite you over for some idle talk and you refuse on the grounds of wanting to listen instead.

    ……if your child shows you a picture of a magical creature and you criticize him for being in error, or thinking so confusedly.

    …….if someone says ‘Good morning’, and you scramble back home to read and make sure you are actually ‘awake’ and you are correctly perceiving ‘day’.

    …….if you hear someone say they have ‘lots of empty space’ in their house and you demand to see it.


  3. Huenemann says:

    … if you find yourself saying “it is the case that X” instead of just saying “X”.

    … if you pause after someone asks “Really?” after you’ve just said “I believe X.”

    … if you enjoyed figuring out what that last sentence meant.


  4. Mike says:

    … if you go on a walk with your dog and think, “we both have a strong proximity relationship to this walk but our knowledge about this walk is probably quite different. What exactly is that difference?”


  5. …….if you hear a dance instructor say her student is always displaying her perfect form and you wonder how that is possible.


  6. Pollock says:

    If you didn’t laugh when Clinton said that, “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” because you know at least three meanings of is.


  7. You’ve flamed a discussion thread by saying:

    “Your position has the following two features:

    “1) It’s false

    “2) (1) is sufficiently clear that the fact that you hold your position is evidence of mental deficiency on your part.”


  8. Tremolo says:

    …indeed, if you don’t realize that “philosophy major” is a life’s goal only for achievement junkies.


  9. The last time I checked Rupert Murdoch and all women on the View were the kinds of people who sleep through a philosophy class because a) they think its ‘boring’ b) its over their limited heads and c) it takes away from their precious and meaningless business degrees.
    We’re sorry our major doesn’t grant substantial income, and we’re also sorry that we don’t think education should be determined by potential substantial incomes. We’re sorry that we don’t feel that material wealth has any absolute meaning, or in fact ANY meaning at all.
    Actually, no we’re not.

    To add to the list, if you were also thinking these same things, you might be a philosophy major!


  10. Huenemann says:

    I think Tremolo is right. A philosophy major (indeed, any major) makes for a pitiful life’s goal. “Reducing suffering” is a good one, as is “Contributing to the ediface of culture.” “Pursuing wisdom” is a good one, too.


  11. I agree there. There was an article in the Statesman today about getting an education as opposed to simply a degree. Too many people think in a strictly linear form, they see a major as a degree, a degree as a career, a career as a status, rather than looking to pursue wisdom or help others. I experienced this in the Army when I was finishing my contract and began outprocessing. One of my commanding officers asked what I was going to study in college, and when I stated ‘philosophy’ she said back ‘Oh you can study that whenever, you should major in engineering or business and just have a job making money and not doing much.’ She used an example of widgets, where you just make them and occasionally make them better (what the hell is a widget!?!) Frankly, I’d shoot myself with an assembly line job like that. I’d rather be reading and learning and perhaps teaching as well. I’d get paid less but that isn’t the point. Most people seem to see a major like it is the point.
    To paraphrase Dr. Kleiner when he berated us one day: “If you don’t want to read and learn why are you even here?! College isn’t a civic duty! Go home and flip burgers or something if you don’t want to learn for yourselves! Stop wasting your time then!”
    People seem to see majors as the money the offer, so the money takes all the value of the thing, which is a capitalist mindset. By that same standard, this Hannah Montana kid is better than Jean Sibelius because she makes more money and has more fans, and that is her only impetus for making music. The major system in college seems to have progressed the same way, and I’d rather it be more open ended. I’m a philosophy major who would also love to study some art history and natural sciences, but I am restricted in terms of time and resources and structure. I can see why it is there but the inflexibility seems to cause more materially minded majoring instead of education and talent focused majoring.
    Anyway, on to more list items!


  12. Andrew Blackwell says:

    … if you have two majors: one for education (philosophy) and one that you systematically drudge through in order to assure some sort of monetary security in the future (business, econ, engineering, elem. ed., etc…).


  13. Jay says:

    Wanna make money and do philosophy here’s your choices:

    1) study econ, avoiding ecometrics and sticking to theory (economics is based on justice)

    2) study bioethics

    3) study knowledge and trade stocks


  14. Eric Gardiner says:

    I enjoy philosophy because it is a base for further knowledge to be built on. I am economics major, not for the money, but because it is interesting to me. I am interested on how I can bring econ and philosophy together more. If anyone has suggestions please let me know.

    To blood and ashes. Widgets are an imaginary good that are commonly referred to in economics. They are also things on my mac book!!!


  15. Huenemann says:

    Eric – there is a small domain of technical literature on the philosophy of economics — mostly asking questions about models, methods, biases, etc. For a survey, check out this link:

    And then of course there is big-issue literature, about Marx vs. Smith, etc. But mostly, it seems to me, the twin interests can be pursued independently without having to merge them.


  16. Jay says:

    The most interesting intersection of economics and philosophy, I think, is connected with Hume’s assertion that justice is the distribution of scarce resources. This is same definition I’ve heard given many times for economics so it provides an interesting place to start. I’ve always understood Hume’s remarks to include non tangible resources such as rights, etc. leading to questions of how that fits into a system that concerns tangible goods and the value of such goods.

    There is also an interesting question in political philosophy concerning the role of government in the economy. Does the government have a responsibility to ensure fair distribution of goods, say healthcare? Or does the government have a responsibility to crowd out private investment to push the development of technology (such as in the space race or as, I argue should happen, the development of alternative fuels.


  17. Ris. says:

    …when writing a paper you find yourself saying, “in so doing,” instead of “in doing so.”


  18. BD says:

    … when you find yourself arguing over things on a tangent instead of finishing the sentence “You might be a Philosophy major if…”


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