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Finally, philosophy majors find a job for them |

Finally, philosophy majors find a job for them

Jim Tynen
| Wednesday, April 7, 2004 12:00 a.m

At last, hope for us philosophers.

In “Lost in Translation,” Scarlett Johansson mentions to Bill Murray that she got her degree in philosophy.

His reply is something like, “Oh, yeah, there’s a lot of money in that racket.”

Most of us ex-philosophy majors only belatedly realized that. If philosophy is the path to enlightenment, it is also the HOV lane to unemployment.

After my poor parents spent a fortune on my education, I began looking in the want ads under “p” for philosophers — only to find the “nothing” we had talked about in “Introduction to Existentialism.”

I thought philosophy was practical because it teaches you how to think. But when I stumbled out into the real world, I discovered thinking is about as lucrative as being the fine arts consultant to “The Howard Stern Show.”

Eventually I got into journalism, which itself looks lucrative only if you’ve been looking for a job in philosophy. They are similar in that journalism and philosophy both seek the truth — the difference being that journalism will settle for the facts, or even a good story if the deadline is coming up fast.

Anyway, it turns out that soon there might be a way to make a living from the wisdom of the ages.

According to The New York Times Magazine, “philosophical counseling” uses the great thinkers’ insights to help people straighten out their lives.

The key part is that philosophical counseling might soon be approved by health insurance plans. In other words — only in America, folks! — there’s finally a way to use Plato and Aristotle to turn a buck.

Think of how this could help people — especially philosophy majors. You’ve seen them. They’re the people who are so busy brooding on the Great Questions they forget to give you the croissant you ordered with your double latte. And then say, “Do ‘you’ really ‘want’ this ‘croissant’• And what do we mean when we say ‘latte’• And … .”

If some of these lost souls are certified as philosophical counselors, they will stop being a drag on the economy, and their parents can stop fretting over how much they spent on tuition.

There are only two problems. The first is what we will do when low-cost mystics from India begin offering inexpensive insights from the Upanishads via an 800 number.

And, second, what are we going to do with the art history majors?

Jim Tynen can be reached at

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