It is true that many students initially major in philosophy because they are interested in (or obsessed with) certain questions for reasons that have nothing to do with job security. (That kind of obsession is a sign of intelligence, suggesting a mind that takes complexity seriously and seeks to process multiple perspec- tives before deciding what to believe and do.)

But recent statistics show that in this country philosophy majors, equipped with critical thinking and cultural literacy skills, go on to become the highest salary earners in the Humanities, with GRE and GMAT scores among the highest in all disciplines.

The vast majority of philosophy majors don’t stay in philosophy, even while they overwhelmingly report being glad they chose that major because of the skills in reasoning and writing and the larger perspective on human knowledge and the world it affords.

Distinguished former majors include (a short list) George Soros, David Foster Wallace, Susan Sarandon, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi, Carly Fiorino, Moby (Purchase philosophy major!), Susan Sontag, and David Souter.

If you consider the different kinds of valuable work these individuals have done, it becomes clear that, “What can I do with a Philosophy major?” is as much an existential as a practical question. This becomes even clearer if you flip the question around, “What wouldn’t I be able to do without a Philosophy major?”