Saturday, April 12, 2008

What Garbage

Yeah, I'll go back to isolation after this.

When a fellow student at Rutgers University urged Didi Onejeme to try Philosophy 101 two years ago, Ms. Onejeme, who was a pre-med sophomore, dismissed it as “frou-frou.”
Well, Philosophy 101 is probably a waste of time anywhere. I myself changed my major to philosophy only after a 200-level course on Greek and medieval philosophy. So, way to be right, future doctor!
“People sitting under trees and talking about stupid stuff — I mean, who cares?” Ms. Onejeme recalled thinking at the time.
Sitting under trees? ...what?
But Ms. Onejeme, now a senior applying to law school, ended up changing her major to philosophy, which she thinks has armed her with the skills to be successful.
Oh, fantastic - another law student. We don't have enough of those. And hey, the first instance of a recurring theme in this article - that philosophy is useful not in itself, but as a tool to getting the nifty job (usually legal) you want. Knowledge? Nah. Cash? Hell yes.
“My mother was like, what are you going to do with that?” said Ms. Onejeme, 22. “She wanted me to be a pharmacy major, but I persuaded her with my argumentative skills.”
What the flying fuck is this all about?! Your mother has no idea that people with useless humanities majors inevitably go to law school and make more than the fools who bothered to get a real education in a real field? Argumentative skills nothing; you just showed her comparative salaries for pharmacists and the lawyers who sue pharmaceutical companies dry. Case closed, as we say!
Once scoffed at as a luxury major, philosophy is being embraced at Rutgers and other universities by a new generation of college students who are drawing modern-day lessons from the age-old discipline as they try to make sense of their world, from the morality of the war in Iraq to the latest political scandal.
Philosophy was onced scoffed at, but now, just mention you're a philosophy major and people will throw palm branches at your feet. I really love (love is hate here) how philosophy is just an excuse to seem high-minded when engaging in despicable political rhetoric. I can guarantee that some stupid college morons who opposed the Iraq war wanted to feel like they were being good Socratic beings by living the same life they intended to live anyway. Unexamined, even!

Oh, and philosophy has so much to do with political scandal. Did you know what Kant said about Eliot Spitzer? Oh, right, he died 204 years ago. My bad.
The economic downturn has done little, if anything, to dampen this enthusiasm among students, who say that what they learn in class can translate into practical skills and careers. On many campuses, debate over modern issues like war and technology is emphasized over the study of classic ancient texts.
This must be post-dated to when that downturn finally occurs. Anyway, when your parents and the taxpayers foot the bill for your education, you don't really let anything like getting a real job dampen your enthusiasm for whatever mental masturbation you feel like engaging in, like trying to squeeze the square peg of the War on Terror into the round hole of classical philosophy. Keep reaching for that rainbow!
Rutgers, which has long had a top-ranked philosophy department, is one of a number of universities where the number of undergraduate philosophy majors is ballooning; there are 100 in this year’s graduating class, up from 50 in 2002, even as overall enrollment on the main campus has declined by 4 percent.
So what have these 100 solipsists done with themselves?
At the City University of New York, where enrollment is up 18 percent over the past six years, there are 322 philosophy majors, a 51 percent increase since 2002.
Same question.
“If I were to start again as an undergraduate, I would major in philosophy,” said Matthew Goldstein, the CUNY chancellor, who majored in mathematics and statistics.
I was thinking the opposite, actually - major in math, take a bunch of electives in philosophy. Whatever; it's too late now.
“I think that subject is really at the core of just about everything we do. If you study humanities or political systems or sciences in general, philosophy is really the mother ship from which all of these disciplines grow.”
It is at the core of everything we do. But things don't grow from mother ships. Ships aren't animals, Matt.
Nationwide, there are more colleges offering undergraduate philosophy programs today than a decade ago (817, up from 765), according to the College Board.
All to the wonderful end of...(and now you fill in the blank with a practical benefit)
Some schools with established programs like Texas A&M, Notre Dame, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, now have twice as many philosophy majors as they did in the 1990s.
Awesome; of course, now everyone in the world has to go to college, even illiterates, so that's not so impressive. Still, philosophy! Woo!
David E. Schrader, executive director of the American Philosophical Association, a professional organization with 11,000 members, said that in an era in which people change careers frequently, philosophy makes sense.
Philosophy makes sense in any possible world. Does it make special sense in this one?
“It’s a major that helps them become quick learners and gives them strong skills in writing, analysis and critical thinking,” he said.
People have too much faith in the ability of education to make thinkers out of idiots, and not just to make thinkers out of thinkers.
Mr. Schrader, an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware, said that the demand for philosophy courses had outpaced the resources at some colleges, where students are often turned away.
Some are enrolling in online courses instead, he said, describing it as “really very strange.”
Some people just had to bite the bullet and sign up for courses where they would never have to get out of bed or really bother with work. Man, the sacrifices some people will make for philosophy.
“The discipline as we see it from the time of Socrates starts with people face to face, putting their positions on the table,” he said.
What about the discipline as we see it from the time of Thales? Whoops; didn't study the Presocratics? Oh well.
The Rutgers philosophy department is relatively large, with 27 professors, 60 graduate students, and more than 30 undergraduate offerings each semester.
Of which like 25 are probably total bunk.
For those who cannot get enough of their Descartes in class, there is the Wednesday night philosophy club, where, last week, 11 students debated the metaphysics behind the movie “The Matrix” for more than an hour.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaand the other shoe drops with a resounding THUD.

This is what is getting people into philosophy and getting The New York Times excited enough to write this stupid article. A bunch of people whose philosophical ambition far outstrips their ability are getting together to try to take The Matrix (italics, you fools - no wonder you're bleeding readers) seriously as philosophy. This is it. Descartes, not exactly Hegelian in his difficulty, is being processed through the filter of Neo. How juvenile.
An undergraduate philosophy journal started this semester has drawn 36 submissions — about half from Rutgers students — on musings like “Is the extinction of a species always a bad thing?”
"Is evolution bad?" Rutgers students debate it, tonight at ten!
Barry Loewer, the department chairman, said that Rutgers started building its philosophy program in the late 1980s, when the field was branching into new research areas like cognitive science and becoming more interdisciplinary.
"Interdisciplinary" meaning "philosophy is hard so we decided to dilute it with other stuff and to try to bolster our flimsy theories with evidence from the sciences." Nice try. Now hit the books.
He said that many students have double-majored in philosophy and, say, psychology or economics, in recent years, and go on to become doctors, lawyers, writers, investment bankers and even commodities traders.
Imagine what useless investment bankers these people would be without reading Being and Time.
As the approach has changed, philosophy has attracted students with little interest in contemplating the classical texts, or what is known as armchair philosophy.
I could have sworn that philosophy was done under trees, or something. I guess it's back to the armchairs. To contemplate classical texts.
Some, like Ms. Onejeme, the pre-med-student-turned-philosopher, who is double majoring in political science, see it as a pre-law track because it emphasizes the verbal and logic skills prized by law schools — something the Rutgers department encourages by pointing out that their majors score high on the LSAT.
Several organizations offer preparation courses on the LSAT that could avoid all this philosophizing nonsense, if your goal is just to get into law school and not actually seek out truth. Thanks for pissing on my major. PS: law schools value Bluebooking skills and memorization more than logic. Have fun with that.
Other students said that studying philosophy, with its emphasis on the big questions and alternative points of view, provided good training for looking at larger societal questions, like globalization and technology.
Looking at alternative points of view is not good in itself. It's good in that it excludes nothing that might lead to truth. But whatever; let's use philosophy to seem smart when we talk about Pepsi.
“All of these things make the world a smaller place and force us to look beyond the bubble we grow up in,” said Christine Bullman, 20, a junior, who said art majors and others routinely took philosophy classes.
I'm just sure you've left that bubble and have actually examined other views. Like, what do you think about Nozick? Oh, you never read him? You just read Marx and 1500 commentators on Marx? Way to expand that mind.
“I think philosophy is a good base to look at a lot of issues.”
If those issues are philosophical, then it's not a base, it's the subject matter. If they aren't, then why are you doing philosophy when you should just be doing your differential equations?
Frances Egan, a Rutgers philosophy professor who advises undergraduates, said that as it has become harder for students to predict what specialties might be in demand in an uncertain economy, some may be more apt to choose their major based simply on what they find interesting.
Is the economy uncertain or in a downturn? Too bad there's no field of study where you could take a logic course that would reveal the stupid contradiction there.
“Philosophy is a lot of fun,” said Professor Egan, who graduated with a philosophy degree in the tough economic times of the 1970s.
Sex is fun. Binge drinking is fun. Why should one pay $120,000 to have some fun which does not involve naked women and beer?
“A lot of students are in it because they find it intellectually rewarding.”
Because it makes them feel smart or because they are getting closer to the truth? Be careful; one of these answers is right and one is wrong.
Max Bialek, 22, was majoring in math until his senior year, when he discovered philosophy.
He was shy at first, but philosophy was gentle with him and hugged him afterward as he sobbed into its shoulder.
He decided to stay an extra year to complete the major (his parents needed reassurance, he said, but were supportive).
"They forked over the dough."
“I thought: Why weren’t all my other classes like that one?” he said, explaining that philosophy had taught him a way of studying that could be applied to any subject and enriched his life in unexpected ways.
Because the other classes are not philosophy. Did you really finish that major?
“You can talk about almost anything as long as you do it well.”
Jenna Schaal-O’Connor, a 20-year-old sophomore who is majoring in cognitive science and linguistics, said philosophy had other perks.
What an absurd name. "Jenna" indeed.
She said she found many male philosophy majors interesting and sensitive.
They were not fans of the ladies.
“That whole deep existential torment,” she said. “It’s good for getting girlfriends.”
Sartre got lots of tail.


At 11:37 AM, April 12, 2008 , Blogger Nick Milne said...

You're a national treasure. Do this every day from now on. Never mind your finals.

<3 <3 <3


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