I Think Therefore I’m Broke

The-ThinkerSenator Marco Rubio sent fact-checkers aflutter when he said at the Republican presidential debate on Tuesday that philosophy majors would be better off going into welding. The value of a vocational degree, he argued, was greater than the payoff that comes with contemplating the cosmos. — NYTimes

To this philosophy major (“Seven years of college education wasted”), the statement has the ring of sound career advice.

I can’t say we weren’t warned. As undergraduates at Temple University — only about a dozen of us in the entire department — we were warned that there wasn’t much of a market for our skills. General Motors wasn’t hiring philosophy majors, they noted, and neither was anybody else. Most of the class ended up doing altogether different, Some got teaching degrees (poor bastards). Others went to law school. One guy I knew became a cop. We used to imagine conversations he might have with his superiors like, “If a guy goes through a red light and there’s nobody there to see it, is it still a violation?”

Years after grad school, I bumped into one of my colleagues who’d gone to law school and asked him if his BA in Philosophy helped him in school or in his practice. He laughed in my face. “In your wildest fantasies, do you suppose logic has a damn thing to do with law?” he asked me, incredulously. “Let alone fucking ethics?”

I ended up in philosophy because after exactly one introductory course in psychology — my first choice for a career — I was convinced it was seriously flawed unscientific buncombe, the an opinion from which view I haven’t deviated since. I didn’t realize that “philosophy” is Latin for “bullshit,” or that its study would permanently warp my brane. What the lawyer said, but more so: life isn’t logical. People don’t like logic, they resist its application, and they resent hearing about trying it. Whatever or whoever you approach logically you’ll screw up.

Ever notice how important persuasion is on a daily basis? Well, logic is the last thing you ever want to try when persuading somebody about anything. It is particularly onerous and unappreciated in the workplace. And thanks to my orientation and training in Philosophy, that’s my first instinct. Doomed. It has taken me years to stifle this flaw, and relapses occur often. I have a stack of pink slips to prove it.

Q: What are the 3 most dangerous words one spouse can say to the other?
A: “Honey, be reasonable.”

Am I right?

So Marcolito, I think you’re onto something here, and in light of what I witnessed during the debate and subsequent analyses, your peers unanimously concur. Philosophy and logic have no role in this election process, or in politics generally. Like tits on a bull. A screen door in a submarine. Condoms in a nursing home. You get the idea.

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27 Responses to I Think Therefore I’m Broke

  1. Definitely, philosophy and logic have hurt me – I have SAID “Honey, be reasonable” to my husband. Oy.

  2. Beardsley says:

    Your studies should have acquainted you with Aristotle, whose counsel “Moderation in all things” applies to the use of logic and philosophy itself.

  3. Moderation in all things that are unimportant; but the most intransigent radicalism in all things that matter.

  4. Squathole says:

    Nice to have you back, Manny. Hope all’s well.

    • It cannot be any other way. All our judgments are necessarily subjective. The facts, however, exist independently of our own judgment. And it is fact and an incontrovertible fact that no earthly or heavenly purpose would be served by reestablishing the caliphate, nor by incinerating men in cages, stoning homosexuals, destroying cultural monuments and every book or website except the Koran and the favorite porn sites of jihadists.

      • Dawgbowl says:

        M: I agree with your judgment of the caliphate. Most people do, I’m sure. But there are these jihadists who are certain we’re dead wrong and they’re exactly right, doing god’s work. To them, it’s all that matters in this life and the next. They are exercising, in your words, “the most intransigent radicalism in all things that matter.”

  5. Steve:
    I admire your ability to fight and conquer disillusionment. I’m becoming so cynical of late that I’m already at the 90 percentile on the Ambrose Bierce scale. Next year I may be wandering in the Mexican desert.

    • Squathole says:

      Bierce is a personal hero — not only do I still own his complete works, I actually read them! Better stay out of Mexico, though. Didn’t work to well for old’ Ambrose. And I suspect it’s even more dangerous now.

      • I would have said the Sinai desert, but people would have made the wrong inferences. Actually, I detest the heat, which is why I’ve never lived (nor will live) in Miami. To Mexico, I would prefer the Alaskan tundra or even the nearest chemical waste disposal dump.

  6. Sincerity of conviction proves nothing. No doubt there are just as many bad men who are passionately devoted to manifestly evil causes as good men who are committed to undeniably
    just causes.

    • Dawgbowl says:

      No doubt. That’s my point. When you say “the most intransigent radicalism in all things that matter,” and what matters if left to subjective individuals, then’ you’ve justified the behavior of the violent jihadist asshooks who think what matters is what they think is best for the world.

  7. The best for themselves, anyway. I doubt that they consider what’s best for the infidels. This is what distinguishes Western culture from all other cultures. And, yes, makes it better.

  8. I know it’s not saying much, but The Daily Mail has ten times the integrity of The New York Times and is one hundred times more reliable. Also, it’s on “our” side. Never confuse literacy with honesty.

    • E.O. Hippus says:

      Yes, and the Daily Mail has the history, Wurlitzer, and peer recognition to prove it. That’s truly funny, especially about honesty. BTW, please don’t include me with the “our” side on which the Daily Mail parks its sleazy carcass.

      • E.O. Hippus says:

        Pulitzer. Damn spell check!

      • I anticipated your objection by putting “ours” in quotation marks. And it’s a British newspaper so it isn’t eligible to receive Pulitzers or even Wurlitzers. After New York Times reporter Walter Duranty (the denier of Stalin’s gulag) was awarded his Pulitzer in 1932, the prize hasn’t been worth a bucket of warm spit. And, yes, The Times still hangs Duranty’s portrait in its “Hall of (Dis)honor.”

      • E.O. Hippus says:

        That seems reasonable. An error committed over 80 years ago certainly negates all else. Especially when the Award Committee’s record is compared to a rag like the Daily Mail, which makes about 80 errors hourly. Incidentally, the NY Times is on record as maintaining that Duranty’s Stalin accounts (awarded the prize) was some of the worst reporting to ever appear in the newspaper.

  9. The New York Times, ever conscious of being labelled a “Jewish newspaper,” underplayed the Nazi atrocities against the Jews in Germany and did not even report on the concentration camps until they had been liberated in 1945. But that was 70 years ago and what does it matter today? Not one of The Daily Mail’s little mistakes, or all of them put together, amount to such whoppers as denying the existence of Stalin’s gulags or turning a blind eye to Hitler’s death camps. As for its supposed repudiation of Duranty’s reporting about Stalin, The Times has refused to return his prize and still hangs his picture in its Hall of Fame alongside its other Pulitzer Prize winners.

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