Do you have a friend who is majoring in philosophy? If not, good for you, they are typically pretty obnoxious. But on the remote occasion that you do have a friend who is a philosophy major, then I bet that at least one time you thought about asking him or her: “What are you planning on doing with a philosophy degree? What’s that about?”
Philosophy is not amongst the most popular majors for a lot of reasons, primarily because majoring in philosophy is not a straightforward escalator to financial success and does not have a defined career path, but its power is exactly that: It allows you to see the world from a variety of perspectives, not just that of the economist or the physicist. Philosophy encourages you to stop, breathe and think about what you are doing, what you have done and what you will do, with more awareness of yourself and of the world around you.
In 2015, Clarinda Blais (CAS ’17) had the idea of bringing philosophy outside of academia and into the real world. Clarinda had the (insane?) idea of teaching philosophy in homeless shelters throughout Boston, to give to people with poor or no education a taste of what is think critically about the world which had been cruel to them, and to muse a bit about themselves, too.
A philosophical guided discussion may lead to a new understanding of their problems and a path to a solution, or simply provides an hour to focus on things beyond day-to-day issues. In its beginning, the Free Philosophy Project combatted prejudices of people who didn’t see the point in educating the homeless. Clarinda has since proved the value of her work, and now the Free Philosophy Project is a consolidated reality at BU, and everyone who has attended at least two philosophy classes can lead a discussion (for further informations contact [email protected]).
To the people who still have prejudices about the utility of philosophy, I reply with a quote from Isaiah Berlin, a famous British philosopher of the 20th century: “The goal of philosophy is always the same, to assist men to understand themselves and thus operate in the open, and not wildly, in the dark.”