Will studying philosophy be fun?
Sometimes. But it’s more likely to make you reassess what fun is, what counts as ‘pleasure’, and how important fun is in the making of a good life. If living a good life is the creative employment of your energy in a self-chosen enterprise, then philosophy is a really good place to start.
Will studying philosophy make me cool?
No. And at Cambridge you don’t study Sartre and French existentialists, so double No. But you do study a lot of cool ideas -such as asking whether time exists. On the plus side, doing philosophy at Corpus equips you with some wonderful tools for understanding and creatively engaging with almost anything you will ever hear from anyone. So it will improve your ‘chat’.
What can I do afterwards?
Almost anything. I did a Masters in Art History, applying some philosophical ideas to paintings, before working in an art gallery. I’m currently applying for a PhD. My degree is going to cost me a vast amount of money.
Wouldn’t I be better off doing something useful like law or medicine?
Any degree requiring you to take on new ideas and think for yourself is a wonderful experience that really shapes who you are. But doing a Philosophy degree at Corpus also makes you a clearer and more flexible thinker, and gives you an opportunity to question and shape your beliefs around ethics, human nature and language. And the time to do this is while your mind is malleable: before your profession is decided and that role has become your character, not after. While I personally don’t believe that university should cost anything near the current figures, the cost of a Philosophy degree taken in monthly instalments out of your earnings is a similar financial burden to that of owning a cat for the rest of your working life. Don’t get me wrong, I like cats, but I know which I’d rather have.
You like cats? Really? Can ‘dog people’ do Philosophy too?
Yes, definitely. In fact, I know of a certain philosophy tutor who claims that observing the behaviour of dogs can be a good warning to philosophers not to overestimate the importance of rationality in human cognition. Great, shall I bring my dog then? Not so fast, dog person. It’s not that easy. The philosopher Gilbert Ryle apparently used to claim that people could be divided into two categories on the basis of four dichotomies: green versus blue, sweet versus savoury, cats versus dogs, Plato versus Aristotle. As someone who prefers cats but loves nice dogs, chooses colours depending on their precise tone, prefers savoury most of the time, and loved reading both Plato and Aristotle during my time at Cambridge, this might tear me to pieces. Fortunately a Philosophy degree at Corpus also teaches you that dichotomies usually rely on wrongheaded assumptions.
|Gilbert Ryle, possibly a cat person.|