Why Rubio Is Wrong about Philosophy in 150 Words

10 November 2015

"Welders make more money than philosophers.  We need more welders and less philosophers." -- Marco Rubio in the November 10 Republican Debate

1. No.  Philosophy majors make considerably more over the course of their careers than welders.  (Source:  http://nyti.ms/1HwzyH1 )

2. It should be “fewer philosophers,” not “less philosophers.”  Rubio would know that if he had majored in philosophy.

3. Carly Fiorina had a double major in philosophy & medieval history. Ben Carson became a pediatric neurosurgeon after majoring in psychology (a major that was mocked by Jeb Bush in a recent campaign speech: http://washex.am/1ROk0yV ).  Jeb Bush majored in Latin American studies.  Ted Cruz majored in public policy.  Rand Paul is a college dropout and self-accredited ophthalmologist. Rubio himself majored in political science.  The Republican candidate with the most conventionally “practical” major is Donald Trump, who majored in economics (and who has led four companies to bankruptcy: http://onforb.es/1J0zM6I ).  To the best of my knowledge, none of them is a certified welder.

Drops mike and leaves stage.

Comments (6)

Laura Maguire's picture

Laura Maguire

Thursday, November 12, 2015 -- 4:00 PM

Hahaha! Short and to the

Hahaha! Short and to the point, Bryan!

momookim's picture


Sunday, November 22, 2015 -- 4:00 PM

As a student at a school that

As a student at a school that places a real premium on technical majors, I really appreciate this post. There's a pressure on students to major in something that makes it imminently clear what they're doing it for. It's unfortunate that we're spending these invaluable four years studying that which we arbitrarily judge to be the most bang for you buck?instead of studying what we like the most or what we're most passionate about.

Or's picture


Sunday, November 22, 2015 -- 4:00 PM

@Momookim, with you here.

@Momookim, with you here. There definitely seems to be an emphasis in many academic venues (and, more importantly,an overall, general perception or pressure, perhaps even from oneself) to study something that will yield immediate results or that will be profitable in the short run. But look at this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/05/why-philosophy-majors-rule_n_48... or this: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/10/is-philosophy-the-...
If we're talking immediacy and profit, philosophy majors (and humanities at large) might be more profitable (not to mention enriching)than they are credited.

Gary M Washburn's picture

Gary M Washburn

Monday, November 23, 2015 -- 4:00 PM

Education 'educes'. Training

Education 'educes'. Training induces. There is always a fraudulence to induction. The 'investment' of vast sums on training that may or may not earn a profitable career is hard to understand where the investor is also the one 'induced' into it. There is no greater investment that can be made than the investment of one's life in a business most working people are expected to make. Paying for one's own training, and even working without wages for a time, seems asymmetrical, especially if the 'investment' can be made obsolete by an employer switching to a newer technology, or if the difference between expected income over a lifetime is only marginally greater than the cost. The funds once used by young families to buy their first homes is now being spent on 'education', inhibiting the economy. If college should be financed publicly, perhaps a differentiation should be made between 'education', financed through personal income taxes, and 'training', financed through taxes on business. I think that would clarify the calculus.
John McCumber's Time in the Ditch argues that philosophy is comitting professional suicide by a strange alliance between the anylists who despise popular interest and deliberately discourage it by demanding too technical a tone to all publications, and by a conservative clique (the Straussians) who conspire to effect elevation of similar thinkers to the teaching positions available. The result is there is no market for philosophical works and a fraction of the teaching positions available in a comperable educational system in Europe.
In his autobiography, "Surely You're Joking!", Richard Feynman relates two occasions in which he ventured into philosophy. The result is highly uncomplimentary. Of course, a mind like his, so committed to the quantification of all terms, can hardly be expected to appreciate the importance of the qualifier. But if the qualifier, the meaning of the relation in the proposition, as opposed to the analysis of its extensions, is the crux of how the mind works, then such analysis puts the cart before the horse. Or, in my favorite analogy for it, keeps the bath-water and throws out the baby. It's a matter of values, you see. Not economics.
But there is also a difference between thinkers (whether they publish or not) and scholars (whether they teach or not). A philosopher is a critical thinker who finds flaws in reasoning, even his or her own. A scholar sees the virtue even in flawed or uncompleted thought. Expecting a great thinker to teach is as unrealistic as expecting a fine scholar of the literature to support him- or herself publishing original theories. A teacher encourages and educes, a critical thinker forces others to relinquish untenable theses, and so to focus on the evaluative, the most inductive term. But the thetic induction, the inducement of the synthetic assemblage of pre-existing thoughts and prepackaged functions, is a fraud that profits only the interested parties that set up the system of its induction. It's the ship owner, not the welder, that makes the real money.

Matthew Van Cleave's picture

Matthew Van Cleave

Monday, November 30, 2015 -- 4:00 PM

Nice one, Bryan.  I was

Nice one, Bryan.  I was actually just having a conversation about this with a couple of old college friends, one of whom is a sociologist and one of whom is a welder.  My basic point was that, at least when it comes to getting an education, someone who wants to be a welder shouldn't have to choose a track that excludes them from a liberal education.  In 1909, Woodrow Wilson said, in an address to the New York City High School Teachers Association, ?we want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forego the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.? That's a view I think we should reject and that I believe is harmful to democracy.  Let people become either welders or philosophers as they wish.  But don't make it so that the welders get excluded from taking a philosophy class (or vice versa, for that matter).
But I thought it would be of interest to post the welder's response here, which was much more elegant and interesting than mine.  He said this:
"I think Marco Rubio's statement is a clear indicator of how out of touch he is with the emerging youth and their priorities in this nation.  I think there is a increasing level of ignorance about what is considered critical thinking.  There is no doubt that college helped me be a better thinker. I've always said I learned more about how to think than I did about Environmental Health at [midwest research university].  In comparison, I have spent the last few years of my life in a much different setting which allowed me to tap different types of critical thinking skills. I spent nearly four years doing it, you could call it a blue collar college. Tradesmen prefer the term apprenticeship.  I've met some pretty brilliant people in my life. Some could talk forever about economics, math and the markets; others could make you dizzy theorizing love, life and energy.  Lately (in the last few years) I've met people that can wire a hospital complete from blueprints that would make your head spin or build plumbing systems so intricate, if you saw them, you'd do the sign of the cross every time you took a drink from a drinking fountain. My point is, we need all of these professions. Commenting on how one is 'better' or 'more needed' is not only an unfair comparison, but it sends the wrong message about the core issue, which is; we need BOTH.  Deciding HOW you get there is far more critical and should be of genuine concern for the next leader of this country.  Why not talk to the younger voters about how you can help them find the right path for THEIR future? Instead of trying to pigeonhole two professions and push the next great American philosopher to welding school or force a keen eyed ambidextrous youngster to a four year college. Let's look at the bigger picture and identify how to spawn free thinking and creativity to allow youth to grow into and succeed in a profession that best suits them.  Is that too tall of an order?"
Regarding welder's making more money, even if that were true, there's always this point to make in response.  :)

Man Vargo's picture

Man Vargo

Thursday, July 14, 2016 -- 5:00 PM

It is just one of the

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